Roller Painting for Metal Aircraft

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Aesquire

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If you're prep is good and the paint is the right viscosity nearly any method works.

Except the Wagner airless guns. Save those for staining a deck and consider it disposable.

HVLP systems are more efficient and greatly reduce over spray. They don't eliminate it. They also lay down a thicker coat. I'm curious what weight difference you'd get between old school high pressure guns and HVLP. If anyone has both rigs handy it would be a good experiment.

I haven't tried rollers with the new low volatile paint.

More important than technique. .... and there's some good advice above..... is weight.

Corrosion protection doesn't take thick.

Old school car paint.... a dozen coats of hand rubbed with clear coat can mass more than your avionics.
 

Low Pass

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I've heard of the roll on paint. A boating buddy of mine told me about it. One thing I did about a year ago was a Krylon camo job on a truck I had. Pic below. It worked really well!! Have another friend with an RV-4 who wants me to paint his plane now. We're guessing that if he likes the way it turns out, he'll have the option of clear coating it with a satin overlay. Was a fun project! Just another idea for easy, relatively cheap paint.

2016-05-08 13.12.39.jpg
 

Pops

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The Turbine spray outfit is a 9" turbine compressor , 3/4" hoses to the true HVLP spray gun. Runs on 5 lbs or less of air pressure from the compressor. Gun is very easy to adjust to what you want, air, paint amount and pattern. Sort of lays the paint down with almost no overspray. The down side is the compressor heats the air a certain amount, so you have to use more reducer. I also use longer hose to help to cool the air. The up side is no moisture.
When painting my last Cessna 172, I decided to use my old spray gun to do the wing tips just to see the difference since I haven't sprayed with it for several years. Terrible, I took reducer and wiped the paint off and repained with my HVLP.
 

Pops

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I've heard of the roll on paint. A boating buddy of mine told me about it. One thing I did about a year ago was a Krylon camo job on a truck I had. Pic below. It worked really well!! Have another friend with an RV-4 who wants me to paint his plane now. We're guessing that if he likes the way it turns out, he'll have the option of clear coating it with a satin overlay. Was a fun project! Just another idea for easy, relatively cheap paint.

View attachment 52074
Sherman Williams makes the Kryron paint. I used it on my SSSC airplane and was wanting to use it on my JMR Special, but SW paint store told me that it just come in rattle spray cans now, not in qts or gallons. Wish I could find some in gallons. The Kryron paint on the SSSC was done in 2007 and looks as good today as the day it was painted.
 

radfordc

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Sherman Williams makes the Kryron paint. I used it on my SSSC airplane and was wanting to use it on my JMR Special, but SW paint store told me that it just come in rattle spray cans now, not in qts or gallons. Wish I could find some in gallons. The Kryron paint on the SSSC was done in 2007 and looks as good today as the day it was painted.
Krylon in cans: Spray Paint | Spray Paint Products & Finishes| Krylon
 

narfi

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I didn't know they made Urethane paints..... I always use the word Krylon to mean 'cheap spray can paint' sort of like you use the word 'Kleenex' to mean tissue.
 

BoKu

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...cheap HVLP guns from HF (about $16 each) and considers them disposable...
That's pretty much what we do. We get three or four of them every time they go on sale for ten bucks. We use them once for a big job like a wing skin or fuselage half, clean them as best we can, and then toss them into the box of backup sprayers. Every once in a while we troll the backup box and put together a couple of sprayers we can use for smaller jobs.
 

cheapracer

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Regardless of the method, hot paint is the secret guys.

Spray cans or your small tin in a pot of hot water (not boiling on a flame!) for around 5 minutes, or longer for a big tin of paint.

It goes on thinner but tackier as well, much easier to control.
 

Fred in Wisc

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Does anyone "roll and tip" aircraft like they do with boats? Roll on a coat, then brush very softly over the top with the tips of a badger hair brush to pop the air bubbles and give a really smooth finish. The yacht guys get amazing mirror finishes doing that with Awlgrip and EMC paints (nasty stuff that'll melt yer lungs, though).
 

Daleandee

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ExperCraft has been unusable now for quite a while although the notes are there. Here's the information I had put on that site (edited):

* * *

Due to a number of requests for information about the painting process for Myunn (N319WF a 3.0 Corvair powered Sonex air frame) here is a brief description of the process and products used for painting my aircraft. This paint process is done with paint rollers. The reasons for choosing this process:
1) I didn’t have permission to use the hangar as a paint booth.
2) I did not have an adequate compressor to run a paint gun.
3) The cost was less than 1K complete.
4) It’s much easier to control the amount of paint applied.
5) Finish concerns (runs, drips, trash) can be dealt with easier.
6) I did it all myself, by myself.
7) Acceptable finish, good shine, quality paint, and I was not the first to use this method.

The Sonex is constructed of 6061-T6. The paint manufacturer assured me that this paint required no primer as it is designed to be used on aluminum boats. This would save weight and labor. The manufacturer also noted that no serious prep work was needed but I followed a fellow builder and did prep the surface. First the entire aircraft was washed several times using Dawn dish washing liquid. Dawn is excellent for removing oils and grease. This was followed by washing again with a product from Aircraft Spruce called “PREKOTE© SURFACE PRETREATMENT” and using a red Scotchbrite to scour and rough up the surface. Note that it is very important to remove all of the Prekote when rinsing and that none be allowed to dry on the surface (see Prekote instructions). Once cleaned and dried the use of a well cleaned and dry hangar is highly recommend. My aircraft was still fully assembled when painted. I used 3M blue painter’s tape to mask off areas not to be painted and used 3M Fineline tape for striping lines.

The paint is an Acrylic Urethane Enamel consisting of paint, catalyst, and flow fluid (thinner). For my application the recommended mix was 8-2-4 i.e. 8 parts paint, 2 parts catalyst, 4 parts thinner. I applied it in temps down to near freezing and the manufacturer claims application temps in the mid-teens.
Application of the initial coatings were to roll on a light coat on a small area and then using a dry roller you then would “stretch” the paint out to a larger area. It was amazing to me how far a little paint went. Manufacturer said to apply one coat per day for the three coat method. You can lightly sand between coatings (red scotchbrite or 1500) but take care with raised rivets or corners as the paint is still soft. Using the Scotchbrite tends to leave trash on the surface so be sure to clean it well before the next coat. The first coat will have uneven color coverage. The second one will be much better and by the third the color of the overall paint job should be very consistent and even. You will get some orange peel, dust nibs, and trash in the paint. I did notice that all of the surfaces that were either painted vertical or overhead (the bottom) have a much better flow out with higher shine and less dust to settle on it. If you are painting an un-assembled aircraft, paint the surfaces in the vertical position as much as possible. Using a tack rag before any coating is applied is a must. NEVER use flow fluid on the painted surface unless you want to remove the paint.

This process added 20 pounds to my aircraft. All of the colors and markings on Myunn are paint with the exception of the N-number, “Experimental”, and the tail graphics. One lesson learned on striping … once the paint has become tacky remove the striping tape. If the paint is allowed to dry the tape can pull paint off with it as you remove it. In order to have the paint match the N-number a sample of the material from the graphics company was sent to the paint supplier. He did a great match! The checkerboard tail was done using a paint mask that you can order from any good graphics supplier.
Below is a link and information for the paint manufacturer. The jury is still out on how well the adhesion will hold up with this primer-less paint system. But it is used on high dollar yachts, I suppose it will hold on at LSA speeds.

* * *

Here's the updated website for Signature Finish Paints (they have a link to their specific instructions): Boat Paint Supply Kit in Stuart, FL | Boat Finishing Kit

Kitplanes article with photos: "Myunn" Corvair-powered Sonex - KITPLANES

Hope this helps ...

Dale
N319WF

PS: This is what the paint looks like after eight years. I do hangar the aircraft:
 
Last edited:

gtae07

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ExperCraft has been unusable now for quite a while although the notes are there. Here's the information I had put on that site (edited):
Great info, thanks! When you applied the trim colors (wingtips etc.) did you first have an all-white basecoat and then put the other colors over it, or did you mostly leave them bare until the other color was applied?
 

Daleandee

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I painted the entire plane white to start with except for the fiberglass parts i.e. the spinner, Hoerner wing tips, and the tail tips. Those were all coated using self etching primer under the color. The wheel pants are the exception as they are just automotive spray balm paint over the primer. The wheel pants get pretty beat up on the grass runways so it's easy enough to fix a crack or two with fiberglass and touch up the paint with a can of "refrigerator white" spray paint. 😳
 

dkwflight

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Dec 17, 2014
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florida
Hi
A number of years ago I rolled on some marine enamel. Thinned and tipped off directly after rolling.
Tipping is done with a good brush. the finish was like it was sprayed on.
As I got down to less than 1/4 gallon the paint needed more thinner added. You could tell the tipping was not going right.
The 25 foot sail boat took most of the gallon
Dennis
 

TXFlyGuy

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Apr 25, 2012
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Republic of Texas
B-727 number 1, the first delivered to United, was recently restored and flown to the museum for it's final place for display.

The volunteers actually painted the Boeing using rollers! I would not have believed it until it was posted on YouTube.
 

Daleandee

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A number of years ago I rolled on some marine enamel. Thinned and tipped off directly after rolling. Tipping is done with a good brush. the finish was like it was sprayed on.
I've never tried "tipping" with a brush. When I used the second roller (they call it the "dry" roller but it don't stay dry very long) it was used to spread the paint out in what is referred to as "stretching". You could then watch the paint flow out the way I've seen automotive paint flow out after spraying it on. I've had numerous people look close at my plane and tell me it's hard to believe it was rolled on.

I'm guessing that you got very good results with the roll & tip method using marine enamel.
 

Doran Jaffas

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Jun 25, 2019
Messages
179
Hi
A number of years ago I rolled on some marine enamel. Thinned and tipped off directly after rolling.
Tipping is done with a good brush. the finish was like it was sprayed on.
As I got down to less than 1/4 gallon the paint needed more thinner added. You could tell the tipping was not going right.
The 25 foot sail boat took most of the gallon
Dennis
And here I recently bought a new compressor, 2 HVLP spray guns, water filters and attachments....
 
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