Full Vinyl wrap?

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User27

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This interests me. If vinyl is lighter than paint, it makes me curious how it would exceed the balance limits, unless maybe the vinyl was applied over an existing full paint job.

From my research and inquiries around here, most advise that vinyl sticks much better on a metal plane if there's at least one coat of paint underneath. This actually works fine for me since I'm hoping to use vinyl just for trim colors after painting the aircraft white. There's a local company does vinyl wraps on vehicles, and I was going to ask if they'd be interested in doing my plane. That's still quite a ways down the road for me right now though.
Painted first then wrapped to change the colour scheme for airshow work.
The main advantages of wrapping over paint is no finishing with vinyl, the ability to change colour scheme quickly and ease of adding complex shapes and accents. Weight depends on the weight of vinyl used against the skill of the painter. Paint can be light with only a couple of coats of high quality (expensive) paint.
 

Victor Bravo

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So if you started with a bare aluminum airframe, and compared the aircraft weight using an "average" wrap with an "average" paint job, what would the difference likely be? 2% lighter ramp weight with wrap... 2% lighter ramp weight with paint?
 

rv7charlie

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Again, great explanations of the problem areas. Thank you for taking the time to make & post the videos. Wish I had some way to return the favor.
 

Rhino

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BG, I will echo the kudos for those videos. They're great. One of the great thing about considering vinyl wrap for a Zenith CH 750 STOL is that it has very few curves. I might just do most of the color with a vinyl wrap, and just get the most 'curvy' pieces painted to match. Thanks again.
 

Pops

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Many years ago I built the control surface balance tools from the instruction in the Cessna maintenance manuals. By the Cessna manual, if the surface was striped to bare aluminum it would be in the lower end of the bandwidth of being balanced, but well in limits. For the other end of the limits, you would have to put an huge amount of heavy paint to be out of limits. Used it for many Cessna's.
Vinyl wrap over bare aluminum or a light coat of paint, no problem with a Cessna.
 

pfarber

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The FAA forbids full or even partial vinyl wraps on certified AC. They point out many issues, mostly related to the same reasons why painting is a major alteration.

As E/AB of course we are not held to the rule, but if you read http://fsims.faa.gov/wdocs/Other/Major_Repair_Alteration_Job-Aid R5.pdf page 67 it does cover a lot of common sense items that most builders, not being formally trained, would not realize.

The biggest being needing to re-balance control surfaces, unknowingly covering fuel/static/stall warning ports etc.

After a wrap (or even a paint job) you should re-do the W&B.

All these items I bet no one even considered when applying a wrap....
 

Rhino

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The FAA forbids full or even partial vinyl wraps on certified AC. They point out many issues, mostly related to the same reasons why painting is a major alteration.

As E/AB of course we are not held to the rule, but if you read http://fsims.faa.gov/wdocs/Other/Major_Repair_Alteration_Job-Aid R5.pdf page 67 it does cover a lot of common sense items that most builders, not being formally trained, would not realize.

The biggest being needing to re-balance control surfaces, unknowingly covering fuel/static/stall warning ports etc.

After a wrap (or even a paint job) you should re-do the W&B.

All these items I bet no one even considered when applying a wrap....
They allow it to a certain extent. Someone actually covered those details here before. I don't remember exactly where, maybe even earlier in this thread.
 

pfarber

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They allow it to a certain extent. Someone actually covered those details here before. I don't remember exactly where, maybe even earlier in this thread.
The AC does specify a 'limited extent' but a vinyl wrap is not 'limited'... it means the entire structure is wrapped. If you want to say 'pinstripes' or N numbers or logo's say that, but if you wrap major portions of a certified AC you are going to get a paddeling.

For E/AB? You can.. but again, the AC points out all the things you need to check (vents, control surface balance, ports etc).
 

TFF

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I think the AC is to state a legal differential to paint. To paint an airplane does not require a STC or field approval. To cover an aircraft in fabric does. Because wrap is not paint, it is clarification that only approved methods are legal. Out of a sign shop, wrap can’t be used on a certified airplane. Go through the certification hoops to where there is a chain of blame, you now have a aviation part. Essentially they are saying, you can’t make a shortcut.
 

Rhino

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The AC does specify a 'limited extent' but a vinyl wrap is not 'limited'... it means the entire structure is wrapped...
The post I was replying to said partial wraps were forbidden, hence my response. They're not, though they are heavily restricted, mainly on control surfaces where the weight could mess with balance. I thought I read on this forum that a member had if fact done partial wraps on certified aircraft where he worked, I believe under 337s. Might have been on the Zenith forums. They didn't necessarily mind partial wraps if the weight was kept down, but vinyl on control surfaces was severely restricted. He said the inspection was such a pain that they tried to avoid doing control surfaces at all. I'll have to see if I can find that post again.
 

Rhino

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Can't find the one where FAA approval under a 337 was mentioned. An earlier post here mentioned the control balance issues, but he's from England.


I'll add it here if I find it again.
 

12notes

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I'm currently wrapping my 1990 Miata, and that's all I've done so far, so I'm definitely not an expert, but here's my advice, which should be ignored if it conflict with anyone who actually knows what they are doing..

A lot of the horror stories I've read are about eBay discount vinyl which will wrap a small car for around $150, whereas the good vinyl will cost around $400. You'll probably spend well over $250 of your time dealing with the cheap crap, no one regrets buying the latest 3M vinyl, which is now 2080. The price difference between that and the 1080 is negligible, the 2080 is slightly easier to work with, but there is nothing wrong with the 1080 if that's all that's available with the color you want. The 3M vinyl is porous to air when applying it, you can push air bubbles out in place without needing to push them to the edge, it's fairly flexible before you apply heat, you can lift it off and reposition it easily when installing it, none of which is true with the cheap vinyl.

Use a heat gun on low, and test how long it takes to melt a hole in the vinyl. Take a small piece and wrap something curvy for practice so see when you need heat and when you don't. Initial cut of the piece should be big so you don't run out at the corners (curves can take up a lot of material), but once you've done the initial stick, all that excess material will make your life difficult in curves. Trim small sections as you go, keep 1" or so of material on the edges so you can grab it , and especially don't cut the corners short until you are ready to work on them, in case your repositioning of other sections pulls them back.

As for the radio interference anecdote, maybe the graphics company was using some weird stuff in their vinyl, but a far, far more likely explanation is it was one of those cases where a forgotten incidental actually fixing the problem, like if someone didn't realize that they bumped the antenna with their elbow while removing the vinyl, and that bump dislodged a flake of paint or wire strand that was causing the problem. If there was a problem with vinyl wraps and radio interference, there's enough planes with wraps to make it obvious by now.
 

pfarber

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The post I was replying to said partial wraps were forbidden, hence my response. They're not, though they are heavily restricted, mainly on control surfaces where the weight could mess with balance. I thought I read on this forum that a member had if fact done partial wraps on certified aircraft where he worked, I believe under 337s. Might have been on the Zenith forums. They didn't necessarily mind partial wraps if the weight was kept down, but vinyl on control surfaces was severely restricted. He said the inspection was such a pain that they tried to avoid doing control surfaces at all. I'll have to see if I can find that post again.
I don't think (for certified AC) that even a partial wrap would be acceptable. For E/AB, have at it. But the points listed in the AC are still valid even for partial's. You could inadvertently cover something important, or cause a weight or control surface issue.

But everything you can do 'wrong' for vinyl you can do wrong for paint, so I don't know why the FAA has its panties in a bunch. When masking off an airframe for paint you could cover a port/vent or even forget to cover over an fill it full of paint. Control surfaces still need to be balanced and corrosion still happens under paint. I guess 'big paint' lobbied pretty hard to stop the application of these vinyl systems so they can continue to charge $15k+ when in reality you can just clean the old surface and put some vinyl over it.
 

Rhino

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I don't think (for certified AC) that even a partial wrap would be acceptable. For E/AB, have at it. But the points listed in the AC are still valid even for partial's. You could inadvertently cover something important, or cause a weight or control surface issue...
Yeah, I said all that earlier, and there are partial vinyl installs on certified aircraft, so obviously they're allowed, but severely restricted.
 

pfarber

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Yeah, I said all that earlier, and there are partial vinyl installs on certified aircraft, so obviously they're allowed, but severely restricted.
But the AC listed would apply to painted AC as easily as vinyl. A busy A&P could easily forget to cover a static port or fuel vent and clog it with paint just as easily as you could cover/clog it with vinyl.

I don't buy the corrosion part, as vinyl will pop then same as paint if there is corrosion under it. And as for wicking or holding water... lol no. Sorry FAA, you're just making things up.

The only reasonable point is that you may use heat to apply vinyl. Well, you use toxic chemicals to remove paint, and has the FAA ever measured the temp of metal of an airplane parked outside in summer in Texas??? You don't use an acetylene torch to apply vinyl.
 

BBerson

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The link in post #49 is not an AC (Advisory Circular). It is an online FAA Job Aid.
The FAA Job Aid does list the ACE-111 internal FAA memo concerning vinyl wrap.
I don't see any guidance for I.A's, regarding vinyl wrap size determinations of what is or isn't a major alteration.
 
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