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Thread: What do I need to paint my Carbon Cub?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Cubrath's Avatar
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    Default What do I need to paint my Carbon Cub?

    Updated 4/24/15

    New recommendations..


    I have been asked this question before on another cub forum and have gotten several PM's about it. I know that when I tackled my first cub project this is the one thing I worried most about. I decided to start a new thread so it wouldn't get buried in the middle of another and I think it will be helpful for new guys that are considering building. I would also like to add that I am not an expert. I have covered three airplanes and have gotten good results but I would like other builders to chime in with their experience as well.

    This was the question that was asked. "Can you post a basic list of tools required for painting? Compressor type/capacity? Paint gun? What would you expect to spend for this equipment and where would you buy it? Would it be easier for someone without all the painting equipment, experience and place to paint have a shop do it? What might that cost?Would the spray of first coat of polybrush give enough "on the job training" with the paint gun to allow a novice to do justice to the top coat? I have some paint spray experience with oil based paint on cabinetry. That's it."

    Let me start out by saying that YES you can paint your own airplane! I would also add that there is a LOT of painting involved other than the top coat on the fuselage, wings and tail feathers so it would be crazy expensive to have someone else do all the spraying. You will pick it up in no time!

    There are two different ways you can go.

    First is Compressed air which involves compressor (size depends on the gun you are using and will most likely be a 220v), inline moisture and oil traps, hoses and a gravity feed HVLP spray gun. The compressed guns are generally more complicated and finicky to operate. Cost for this quality set up if you have to buy the compressor is going to be about $1600-2500. I use a $600 Anest Iwata and I love it but it took a little getting use to. It is amazing at how low of pressure it will spray at! You will also need a fresh air breathing system if you are going to spray any of the shiny (polyurethane) paints. That will add another $400-600.
    http://axispro.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=4

    Second is a High-Volume, Low Pressure System. This is a turbine based system that is self contained. It compresses the air with a small turbine motor and in the process it heats the air which eliminates the moisture from the lines and there is no oil to deal with. It is the easiest of the two systems to use and it comes in one box, ready to spray. I recommend the Axis Citation 4 stage system with a built in full air mask and gravity feed gun which provides better paint atomization. This complete system will cost you $1600.
    http://axispro.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=53 This system is great, the only area it slightly lacks in is spraying the thicker polyurethane paints. This can be dealt with, it just take a little more trial and error, I mean reducer!!

    So the question is which one is better? After using both systems I would have to say that the compressor based system is better. It will atomize the paint better and you will get a better finish. It is hands down better if you are going to use polyurethane paints. The down side is that this system is more expensive and takes a little more practice before use.

    I still have my Citation sprayer and I do still use it. It is a very capable, simple set up and it will give you great results if you spend the time to learn how to spray with it. The biggest problem I hear is that the paint is always orange peeled and it just won't lay down flat. This problem can be solved by adding more reducer. In some cases it can be twice the reducer called for. The bottom line is that whatever system you use, you just have to take the time to learn it and practice before you start spraying your airplane.

    We can talk about your home made paint booth next!!


    P.S. The picture below is the first cub I did, using the Citation sprayer with polyurethane top coat and I didn't have any prior experience!!

    MR





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    Last edited by Cubrath; 04-24-2015 at 08:19 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ceslaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I need to paint my Carbon Cub?

    Okay, I'm ready. Tell us about the paint booth!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Cubrath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I need to paint my Carbon Cub?

    Quote Originally Posted by ceslaw View Post
    Okay, I'm ready. Tell us about the paint booth!

    Chuck,

    I see the pictures of that GT40! I'm sure you know more about painting than I do!!


    The one area that I have struggled with the most over the years is to dial in the paint booth. I wish I could justify a 75k downdraft paint booth but I just can't get the numbers to work. I also think that if I had 20" exhaust coming out of my garage roof my wife would divorce me and my neighborhood association would evict me! I will explain my poor mans paint booth and what I have found to get the best results.

    There are four parts to the paint boot:

    1) Clean work area

    2) Contain/exhaust overspray

    3) Lighting

    4) Temperature control

    The first one is obvious. You are not going to get good results painting outside in the wind. I took my third stall garage and framed it off with simple 2x4 construction. I then went to the local hardware store and bought 4 mil vapor barrier plastic sheeting. I comes in all sizes so get the right size so you can go from floor to ceiling all the way around the room without cutting the plastic. I just staple mine up and don't have any seams all the way around the room. I find this plastic last for about half the project so when it gets dirty I just staple up another new layer over the old. After three layers its time to tear it all down and start over. It is also easy to cut in filters and exhaust fans. I have moved the location of the filters and fans several times trying to get the best results.

    You will also have to clean the booth between each coat of paint. I started out covering the floor and it just became a hassle. I now just sweep out and wash the floor between coats. Polyfiber sprays very dry so you will have a lot of dust between coats. Some paints you can wet the floor to keep the dust down and others (like polyfiber) won't tolerate the humidity in the booth. I found it best to just keep the floor as clean as possible.

    The second one is the tough one. It is easy to contain the overspray and exhaust the overspray. However, I have found it is very difficult to do without introducing dust into the paint when using slower drying polyurethane paints. The problem is that when using poor man box fans (I know, more on that in a second) you can't move enough moving air to keep the dust suspended and it ends up in your paint. If you look at a 75K professional paint booth they use an enormous amount of air volume that they move through the booth and thats what makes them so good. The dust and overspray is moved out before it has a chance to end up in the paint. I have come to the realization that to get to that level is too difficult and expensive for me and for what I am trying to accomplish. I do use Walmart style box fans. I know they are not an explosion proof fan and there is risk in using them. I accept the risks with the box fans and after aprox 300 hours of spraying in the booth I have not had any problems. This is something you will have to decide for yourself. If you have the ability to use or find a paint booth fan by all means go for it. I am always on the look out for one that I can afford!

    If you look at the pictures below you can see my setup. From my experience I have found that it is better to pull fresh air into the booth through the filters and exhaust the contaminated air out with a fan to get the best results. Over the years I have tried to force air into the booth and then use an exhaust fan to move more air but I had more dust contamination with that method.

    My goal with my setup is to use enough air to clear the paint booth of overspray and introduce as little dust as possible. I have found the best results by using two high flow furnace filters at about the five foot level which allow air into the booth. I have used more expensive paint booth filters and couldn't tell a difference. I then use a box fan at the other end of the booth and simple cardboard boxes to duct the contaminated air out of my adjacent garage door. Its not fancy but I think it provides the best bang for the buck. Another side note, do not just pop your garage door and slide a box fan under it. It will wreck the top of your garage door with overspray. Ask me how I know!!

    If you are going to use polyfiber polybrush/spray/tone or other fast drying paints you will have very few problems with this set up and dust contamination. If the paint dries quick it does not have time to pick up dust.

    Third is the lighting. This is an important one for good results. You have to have enough light to see what you are doing but you also need to have enough light to see where the paint is going onto the surface you are spraying. This is what they call looking at the glare from reflected light. This can be accomplished by using light angled at 45 degrees from the surface you are painting. The lights can be mounted on the wall or you can use portable lights to accomplish this. I do a little of both. This also takes a little experimenting but when try it you will pick it up quick and be able to position your lights to the optimum position. Another side note is try and use LED lights or lower draw lights. If you try to run five halogen lights plus an Axis paint sprayer on one circuit you won't be painting for long! I have switched over to almost all LED lights and I am very happy with them.

    Last but not least is temperature control. Even though my garage is heated I have found I can bump my temperature up in the booth 10 degrees with a small portable heater before I am ready to paint if I need to. I find that 70-80 degrees works best for me.

    Next installment will be on a few of the tricks and tools I have found helpful while painting.


    First picture is the outside of the booth, notice the small boxes at the bottom right of the picture to exhaust the fumes out the other garage door. Extend it out far enough so you don't get overspray on the house, you will be surprised at how much paint comes out. Also, move the cars out of the driveway!!

    Second picture is inside the booth and you can see the small exhaust fan.

    Third picture is inside the booth looking forward. You can see the two filters. The upper fan/filter is not used, just a failed experiment that has not been removed! I am also using two of the new BIG ASS LED lights on the ceiling and they are amazing.

    Third picture is of the boot cowl that I painted yesterday. I'm very happy with the results. Notice my Carbon Cub tee shirt in the reflection!!

    MR
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  4. #4
    Senior Member ceslaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I need to paint my Carbon Cub?

    Excellent post!

    Do you also cover the garage ceiling with plastic or does the poly brush, poly tone, etc., dry fast enough that it is not an issue.

    Any reason not to use a cloth drop cloth on the floor? I don't want to change the color of the floor permanently

    Finally, is such an elaborate air tight arrangement so critical for fast frying Poly materials? I can see it for slow drying paints, but for poly brush, poly tone, etc. it would not seem that critical

    chuck

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cubrath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I need to paint my Carbon Cub?

    I don't cover the ceiling with plastic but it would not hurt. The overspray will get on everything that is not covered. With the polyfiber products it will be just dust, with polyurethane it will be there forever.

    You can use a drop cloth on the floor and I started my fist project doing that. Problem is that its like a carpet and it will hold the dust. You almost need a new one after every trip to the booth, there is just no way to keep it clean enough to reuse. I also tried a tarp and that seamed to work better. You could wash it off and reuse it if you are just going with the polytone. Polyurethanes or paints that stay wet will make the tarp sticky and when you are walking and dragging hoses around will start to pick up the tarp and drag it around. I also tried plastic and paper, they both work but need to be replaced often. Thats when I gave up and just let my garage floor go!

    My booth is not totally air tight but I would strive to make it as tight as you can. The easiest way is to try and use one piece of plastic to go around the booth. You would be amazed at how much dust leaks from the booth even using the fast drying paints.


    I also wanted to add that I realize everyone is going to have a different set up. A separate shop that is just the size of a booth is going to present the problem of where do I take my air in and where do I exhaust it? What if my window is right next to my door?

    I wouldn't recommend pulling air from a window unless its your olny option. If you do this and it is at all windy it will cause the plastic on the booth to flex and the dust that is stuck to it will become airborne. You want to make your booth as controlled as possible and if you can suck fresh air from inside the building but outside of the booth it makes life much easier. You will also have a little more control on your temperature. I would also try and have your intake and exhaust as far apart as possible. This will help move a bigger cross section of air and exhaust the booth better.

    MR

  6. #6
    Member jmorrical's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I need to paint my Carbon Cub?

    Thanks for taking the time to post this detail about methods and equipment. Lots of posts are fairly short on detail. Novices like me are ramping up to do lots of things we know nothing about and this forum and your help in this makes the way seem doable. Thanks

    Jim Morrical

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cubrath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I need to paint my Carbon Cub?

    I will address a few of my favorite painting supplies, and a few tricks I picked up over the last few years. I will break it down into three parts. Pre painting, paint mixing and clean up.

    First is pre paint. This is where all the work is done. There are may different methods for preparing you surface whether its metal, composite or fabric so I won't go into that detail because each one is different and depending what type of paint you are using things will change as well. I will cover a few more of the general things.

    By now you should have your spray equipment picked out and your paint booth set up. The old saying is true, 90% is in the prep work and 10% in the actual spraying.

    The first rule is cleanliness is next to godliness! You want to keep the surface you are going to paint as clean as possible. This is from the time you unpack it until it is finish painted. Don't change oil in your car right next to your new fabric work. Get rid of any products in you garage that have silicone in them. Silicone causes fish eyes in the paint. If you happen to get a drift of silicone from that armorall tire cleaner your son put on his car you will never get it off your raw fabric! Another obvious one is just make sure your hands are clean when you are working with your parts or fresh fabric work. You can clean your parts but the cleaner you can keep them the better.

    Now lets say you have your polybrush applied and your first two coats of poly spray on. I like to wet sand that coat so I can have the best chances for a smooth top coat. When you get ready to sand get a five gallon bucket and fill it 3/4 full with warm to hot water and add a little baby shampoo. This is a mild soap with no extra additives that will help clean the surface while you sand it. It will also help the sandpaper move easier and stay clean. Use a sponge to wet and wipe the part and use as much water as you need and change it often. The cleaner the water, the cleaner the surface. Once the part is sanded wash it with an sponge and new soapy water then rinse with clean water. Make sure part is 100% dry before painting. I use this method anytime I sand between coats.

    Next, your surface should be put in the cleaned paint booth and should not be touched without gloves past this point. You will go through lots of gloves and lots of rags. I buy the black latex gloves at the local auto body store and buy 100% new rags at your paint store. I go through about two boxes of each on a typical project.

    If I am spraying fabric I will clean the surface with Polyfiber C2210 between every coat. If its metal I will use a alcohol based cleaner. Now don't take your gallon of cleaner, put your rag over the top and wet it then repeat. If you do pick up contaminates on your rag you will transfer it into your full gallon of cleaner. It is best to pour your cleaner into a small mixing cup then use that with your rag, not the full gallon. don't put the left over cleaner back in the gallon, it could contaminate it as well. When wiping on the cleaner I like to use two rags, one wet with the cleaner then follow immediately behind with a clean dry rag to get the excess off. I like to do this about 30 min prior to painting so the cleaner has time to fully evaporate off the surface.

    Its obvious but just before painting don't sweep the shop or vacuum the car out! You want to keep traffic to a minimum to keep the dust down. I also like to wear a paint suit. You can buy these at the local paint store for about $30. They will last the whole project and they protect you and your bare skin and keep the dust and fibers on your clothes from getting on your paint.

    Once the paint is mixed and I am suited up thats when I will go in and use a tack cloths to do one final cleaning of the surface. This give me the best chance of getting all the dust. Now you are ready to hook up the gun and spray!

    In the picture below you can see I use the supertuff tack cloths. These are the best tach cloths I have found and the same ones the Polyfiber distributers cary. Go online (eBay) and find them. You can get a whole box for what the dealer sells three for. They are also reusable. Just refold them to a clean side and store them in a zip lock. One box will last the whole project.

    MR
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    Member jmorrical's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I need to paint my Carbon Cub?

    I've seen gravity or suction paint supply on spray guns. What is the advantage of one or the other or is it strictly preference?

    Jim Morrical

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cubrath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I need to paint my Carbon Cub?

    Jim,

    Gravity feed is hands down better. First, with a gravity gun you can use all the paint you put into the hopper. With a suction gun you always leave a few ounces in the the bottom of the sprayer, it just can't pick it all up. A gravity gun will also spray more consistent when it is low on paint. Suction guns start to suck air when you get low on paint and you tip it. Second and most important is that gravity guns atomize the paint better. You don't have to waste air energy sucking paint out of the can, gravity helps push the paint out and all of the air goes to atomizing. As a result you get a better finish. This is even more important when you are using a HVLP system such as the citation sprayer.

    MR
    Last edited by Cubrath; 02-24-2015 at 11:56 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Cubrath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I need to paint my Carbon Cub?

    Sprayed the second and last coat of white Ranthane on the Cub today. The paint laid down almost perfect! I am very happy with the results. I will let it cure for a week then on to the color.

    One thing I wanted to add is about clean up after painting. I have tried all the cleaners and special bottles to clean the paint gun after spraying. The best thing by far I have found is carb cleaner. It has enough pressure to cut through the toughest paints and is so easy to use. I don't paint unless I have a can ready to use for clean up.

    MR
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