Just wanted to get some feedback on an idea. I have contacted three vinyl companies about installing vinyl instead of paint on my 701. All have said that there is no reason that they could not do the complete plane in vinyl. Rivets and irregularities don't seem to be a problem. It has a 10 to 13 year life on an auto (probably much longer on a hangered plane) and is easily removed for a change in design. The cost is 1200 to 1800 bucks depending on the creativity required for the design. Designs have no limitations. They are done by graphic artists on computer. The vinyl itself is not effected by much after it is installed and it weighs a fraction of paint.
Does anyone have knowledge of a downside to vinyl?
Thanks, Vann

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How does it stick? Does heat or cold affect it, like make it curl on the edges? What surface preparation is required?

Sorry that I have only questions, but no answers....

The people I have talked to say that after it is installed, it is impervious to grease and reasonable heat should not be a problem.
Also the only surface prep is that it be clean and grease free. No etching.
Yes, we're tempted to just paint our demo planes basic white (or other base color) and then apply the vinyl "decals" for the additional color(s). On our yellow STOL CH 750 demonstrator, the "checker" scheme on the leading edge slats is made up of square navy vinyl decals (on top of the yellow base paint).

Application of the vinyl requires some skill or experience (especially a large vinyl) and working around rivets is also a little tricky...but it holds up real well (even on the leading edge!).
With vinyl on the demo planes we could change schemes and colors regularly for a "fresh look"
I think the vinyl is the best answer, weight and cost. Paint will cost over $5,000 you could do about three vinyl jobs for that. I have an order in to do the checkerboard slats on mine.

I really don't know of any down side to the vinyl. As it was explained to me at Sun n Fun it it somewhat of a heat shrink process and very durable.
Can any of you give me some references to companies which do this? The idea sounds like it might solve some of the problems I'd like to resolve. Will the decals apply to bare metal, or must the metal have something like a white background applied?
My thoughts are that airplanes have surfaces which 'move' more than cars - flexions, vibrations, etc - and we travel faster. We have had letters stuck on in 3M metallic reflective vinyl but when when the glue goes soft in the heat (over 100F here many days) bits can start to peel - I am interested that the factory have the squares - I think that small sections are less likely to be disturbed than large areas - due to the above points....

The bubbles may be an issue too - especially over the rivets - but from a distance nobody would notice...

I think vinyl is great for detail work, logos, letters, etc - but have my doubts in regards to large areas - but somebody has to be first... TRY it and let us all know!!!

Enjoy and be the first - lead the way - and post lots of pictures!!!
While I like the sound of this, I'm going to need a lot more information than I now have before I do this. I spent many years working for a firm which did major mods on large aircraft. One of the basic rules was: "never buy anything with a low serial number," and "never try something for the first time, unless the customer is willing to assume the risk." I'm not willing to be the first to try this.

I'd like to see some data from those who have done it, which sounds like it might include Zenith. I'd also like to see firm data from companies who make the decals. Someone suggested that this might be available or usable as a heat shrink media. That might help the rivet problem, which is another of my concerns.

You are correct that the vibration environment is very different for aircraft than for cars. The engine frequency is different, and cars can transfer some of the vibration to the road through the tires. Whatever vibration the airplane creates is pretty much there.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.
Hmmm - I have thought some more and am concerned about a large sheet starting to peel causing a break in the laminar flow and potentially stalling a surface... The more I think about it I think that small decals are cool - fuselage large decals not a big deal - but control surfaces are best left painted. At least paint peels off and leaves the surface allowing controlled flight to continue!

Have a great day and be safe.... 'cause safety is NO accident!
While I don't think we'll really get laminar flow with the Zenith wing - few, if any, small general aviation aircraft have achieved this - you directly addressed one of the concerns I have. If the decal on the wing partially separates, it would disrupt the flow of air over the wing, unless the whole thing departs the aircraft very rapidly.. The results are somewhat unpredictable, which is not a good thing.

I'm less certain than you about large decals on the fuselage, because if a large area of decals peeled on one side, but not the other, one sie of the fuselager would suddenly get draggy, possibly causing a significant yaw in flight.

A place (or places) I think it has a better chance of working is on the leading edge of the wing, the horizontal stabilizer, and the rudder. In those places, the airflow should help keep the decal attached.
Jim and others,
Sorry for not responding sooner. Been on a canoe trip. I work for a trucking company part time. I see vinyl wrap everyday on cars and trucks. I have never seen a problem with peeling or coming off. It is used on motorcycles and race cars. Seems very durable. I will of course do much more research before diving in. I just started my 25 hour test period and will think more about it after that. It would be nice to hear from some people that have worked with vinyl. Anyone out there?
How does the black "non-stick" material adhere to the wing? You know, the stuff we step on as we are climbing into a low wing airplane.

That stuff is black, so I would think it gets hot in the sun. It gets stepped on, which would put abrasive stress on it, and it is then subject to prop blast and the relative wind.

If that stuff holds up well, I bet the vinyl would too (assumption that the adhesive is the same). I'd be willing to try on my own airplane, but I'm only at the 90% done stage right now....


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