When to repaint a plane?

Discussion in 'Maintenance Bay' started by 4RNB, Apr 22, 2021.

  1. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Is there a good set of rules or guidelines to know when to repaint a plane?

    1974 C172 M owner. It was repainted at least once. Decent curb appeal from 20 feet. I had Corrosion X done a bit ago, now spending some time cleaning the plane, waxing, lots of elbow grease. So far I have done just the top of the cabin and top of the wings. Some observations:

    -During pre buy the mechanic pointed out some issues with paint under the wings, it is just a bit rough, maybe even orange peel like.
    -Some other colors show through in spots indicating the original paint might still be on, or not all of it was taken off.
    -Flaps and ailerons are shinier, newer looking, but have drip marks or runs as if I painted them...
    -There is some rust on screwheads.
    -There are a few spots absent of paint, seems to be near what I would think of stress points or where hardware attaches.

    In reading about paint I read that a failure to strip old paint can subtract forty pounds from ones useful load. My useful load is 770#, would love 40# more!

    So when do folks normally repaint their planes? How did you arrive at the decision to paint?

    Do folks normally replace plastic trim and plastic windshields at the same time?

    I am on the waiting list for a hanger...

    Thanks.
     
  2. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    When your pocketbook equals your motivation.
     
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  3. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    But paint is more than cosmetic. Paint acts as a barrier to corrosion. Something to think about especially if you are parked outside.
    Nothing improves pride of ownership more than a new paint job
     
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  4. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Have you repainted a plane?
     
  5. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    I had paint peeling/corrosion in numerous places.
    Some minor hangar rash.
    PO had it painted 12 years ago by what looks like a 16 year old kid on crack.

    In the end, it was sum of all of above.

    I had glass issues as well, I replaced the glass.
     
  6. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    3 months? Mine took 5 weeks, and that’s only because it took 2 weeks to repair fuel leaks that developed after the stripping process.
     
  7. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach

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    Your 172 was probably direct painted with a laquer based paint and no primer. I'm guessing a scheme executed with epoxy primer and modern paint would weigh 30-40 lbs.
     
  8. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Hello, Banksy?
     
  9. samiamPA

    samiamPA Pre-Flight

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    I would try to salvage the paint for as long as possible with the available polishing compounds meant for aircraft.

    That being said, I purchased my airplane 2 years out from a fresh strip and paintjob by an awesome shop (Lancaster Aero in Smoketown PA - the same shop that did this year's AOPA sweepstakes plane) and the difference from my last plane is remarkable. After a complete strip, proper prep, and good paint - it really is something.

    Airplanes are annoying. Big expenses come once every 20 years, and make a huge difference, but you never recoup the value at resale.
     
  10. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Every 20 years? :rofl: I wish.

    I think I might get lucky if every 20 years I get one year without big expenses. :D
     
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  11. MooneyDriver78

    MooneyDriver78 En-Route

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    You won’t recoup the entire amount (avionics, paint), but you do get some of it back.
     
  12. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    No. It's very subjective to the owner and aircraft. When I had old customers inquire on repaint we would review the condition of the paint, underlying maintenance issues, and what end result are they looking for: protection or
    aesthetics.
    FYI: there are other types of chemicals and treatments that are specifically designed to "rejuvenate" existing paint jobs. A talk with the specific paint OEM or a reputable paint supplier will get you more info on your particular situation.
    And that is what they are. Stories. If it takes 3+ months to prep and paint a single engine GA aircraft there was more going on than prepping and painting the aircraft. The longest one I've been involved in took 5 weeks, start to finish. But me and the owner disassembled the aircraft, he performed all the stripping and prep, a local paint shop painted it, and we reassembled the aircraft complete with a new empty weight and balance.
     
  13. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

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    I fly a Cessna 140 I think painted in 80. I’ve brought it a long way, a lot of our paint is like (or is) single stage car paint - like the olddays. Much can be done to rejuvenate it. Also with some elbow grease you can do much of it yourself if some touching up would go a long way. I got same white as mine was painted with and taught myself to use a gun. The purple gun from harbor freight is loved in the experimental world- for good reason it works great- and is $15. I rejuvenated what I could and areas I couldn’t I put a light coat of paint on, then hit it with a blast of laquer thinner from the gun and it turned out amazing. What spots in prep became bare metal i acid etched and Allodined. I have done an aggressive weight loss program on the plane so if I give up a lb on this, I’m ok- I’ve stripped about 50lbs off her. The area I had to redo was more the lower stuff and gear. The fact our cessnas are build with different “panels” makes a spot to break the new pain line easy.

    love, elbow grease, YouTube and some gusto can go a long way.

    And if ur looking to gain useful start looking around at stuff- everyone laughed at my goal - and I’m close and most of it was elbow grease not all dollars. The biggest dollars I’ve spent was a lightweight starter and oddesy battery. Don’t overlook small stuff- “ounces makes lbs” is the mindset ya need and you can find lbs to drop
     
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  14. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    No, but then I am a chemist at a DOD aircraft overhaul facility. I tell people how to paint planes. I deal with aircraft corrosion on a daily basis.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2021
  15. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So DOD only paints planes because they have a big pocketbook? Or do you and DOD have some objective standards you can share?
     
  16. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    DOD paints planes to protect the assets. When planes come in for overhaul is very complicated and well beyond the scope of this discussion. Paint don’t paint, it really is up to you. All I’m saying is damaged paint, not faded but damaged/absent paint is an invitation to corrosion. Deferred maintenance usually costs more in the end. Your call.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2021
  17. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I was not asking about complicated overhaul issues, I was asking for help pertaining to when to paint.
    Yes, it is up to me. But I am new to this and trying to get guidance. Saying it is up to you, or when you have the money, or when it looks bad and you want it to look better, these things don't help me objectively evaluate my plane and it's paint.
     
  18. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    I did give you objective criteria. Damaged paint is an invitation to corrosion. Corrosion will kill a plane. Is your paint damaged or just faded.? Do you live in the high Arizona desert? Then it’s not a big problem. Do you live on the coast or in Florida? Then it’s a problem. Nobody likes spending money. Planes can be expensive. My plane that I purchased had a good paint job. if it had not I would’ve factored that into the purchase price. If you bought this plane for cheap because it had a so-so paint job and you did it with your last dollar, that’s not good
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2021
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  19. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Did you miss the part where he said it is a form of corrosion protection?

    I really couldn’t care less how pretty an airplane is, I don’t have time or patience to be dealing with corrosion issues on my personal airplane. So I make sure there is no corrosion and that there is paint on the airplane to protect it. That can either come in the form of a whole new paint job if what is there is bad enough or spot repairs.

    Something I haven’t seen mentioned here yet but is worth noting is that you sprayed corrosion x in the plane. That will seep out through joints for a period of time. Now is not when I would be trying to paint.
     
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  20. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    There is no direct guidance to when to paint. Most guidance simply states "check condition of finish." The only way to get a subjective review of your paint is to get your mechanic to evaluate your paint from the protection side, i.e., corrosion prevention. Then step back and look at it. Do you like the appearance of the finish? Then combine the 2 observations and decide if the bang for buck is to leave it as is, repair the paint as needed and treat the existing finish, or to repaint the aircraft. That's it. And yes I've been directly and indirectly involved in dozens of aircraft repaints.
     
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  21. Snowmass

    Snowmass Line Up and Wait

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    83y side.jpg I personally painted my C-210D (it's in the picture) in 1981 with Imron and the paint is still pretty good. It took me a week to strip the old paint which if often not necessary. The spraying was not difficult after I realized that you should do it in 4 sections to eliminate same plane overspray. Also this makes spraying much less fatiguing and no paint pot required since the paint gun holds enough paint for one section. Using modern low pressure paint (which conserves paint since much less overspray waste) guns the total cost would be about a few thousand dollars.

    I just followed the DuPont instructions. However, if you would rather trade a few dollars for labor you could use teenagers on vacation to strip and hire a automotive painter to do the color coat. Also, the plane could be flown until the last few days when you would remove the control surfaces for separate spraying. And no flying the plane hundreds of miles to a paint shop.

    Actually, I don't see why most A&Ps don't paint planes. Aren't they supposed to be capable of dope and fabric work which involves lots of spraying.

    83y side.jpg 83y side.jpg
     
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  22. Snowmass

    Snowmass Line Up and Wait

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    Sorry about the double image. Mistake in attaching.

    The picture is about 5 years old so the paint is about 35 years old. Imron is good stuff.
     
  23. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Usually has nothing to do with capabilities, rather a place to do the work. As mentioned in other threads, the majority of public airports do not permit painting and in many cases do not permit heavy maintenance. And unless the mechanics main business is painting it is not worth the cost of building and permitting a paint booth large enough for an aircraft. So unless the aircraft owner had his own hangar to do the painting it boils down to limited or no options to perform the work. When my paint hangar access was blocked, went with plan B and started disassembling aircraft and taking them to local auto shop which actually became a better deal for me.
     
  24. edessa

    edessa Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Had the corporate jet painted last year. It was 12 years old. I don't like going more than 8 years. The entire process took 27 days from drop off to pickup.

    35DE62AC-A8C4-406D-947C-495D8A34A5AB.jpeg 8A17F849-55E3-4301-82F3-F344929249E4.jpeg 42B0419B-884D-43DD-B970-0F2D9C7A8971.jpeg 19C6CB80-D3D3-4371-8A10-4DD73B8FA8A2.jpeg AB4748AC-7BB7-408A-B90C-219B6B09CA8D.jpeg 0DAA3D14-AEA9-4832-95CC-4145024E2680.jpeg 5BF3337D-5261-4DC2-B7E0-C3C57B75EB72.jpeg
     
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  25. Rico Burgos

    Rico Burgos Filing Flight Plan

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    Don’t get it painted at arts and craft out of Santa Maria. Terrible experience
     
  26. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    Early fall, after the bugs fly South for the winter.
     
  27. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I learned something today.
    Corrosion X seeping out of the plane makes paint not adhere well. A shop told me no guarantee if such was sprayed in previous two years, bummer, I gotta wait.
     
  28. bluerooster

    bluerooster Pattern Altitude

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    Wait, let me get this straight; You have never painted a plane, yet as a chemist for the DOD, you are qualified to tell folks how to paint an airplane?

    For the OP
    When ever you want, and have the funds to.
     
  29. Radar Contact

    Radar Contact Pattern Altitude

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    The paint on my plane started coming off several square inches per mile of rain I flew through. It was a cheap spray over job and I wanted it done correctly with a full strip, inspection/repair as needed of the bare metal, alodined and painted the color I wanted. It looks good, provides corrosion protection, I gained some useful load and I realized it was simply time.

    It’s not cheap and it takes a long time, but in the end was worth it.
     
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  30. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 En-Route

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    Yup, the artisans have the technique but they do not know the chemistry of the paint systems. I write the instructions that they follow. It is a collaborative system, just like a doctor and a nurse, but the doctor is ultimately responsible for the care of the patient.
     
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  31. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    What does being able to move a paint spray gun have to do with the chemistry and other detailed technical knowledge needed to properly select and specify protective coatings to preserve an airplane?
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2021
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  32. Daleandee

    Daleandee Cleared for Takeoff

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    I did see your plane while at SnF in the aircraft camping area (we were on the back row) and it looks better in person than on the videos ... :yes:
     
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  33. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm amazed how different the underside of the plane is compared to the top, paint just flaking off. I wonder if this is from improper care or if that area was not repainted.
     
  34. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    The underside is worse?
     
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  35. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    It's usually caused by the type of cleaning materials used and type of paint. Some combinations cause the paint to soften during the cleaning process which leads to the paint to fail.
     
  36. 4RNB

    4RNB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yes, just spraying on dilute dawn and wiping flaked paint off.
     
  37. Snowmass

    Snowmass Line Up and Wait

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    I really like your plan B.

    I do have my own hangar and (dirt) airstrip. However I think that the most profitable activity I can imagine is painting my own plane. It took me about 3 weeks total and I saved what? Maybe $10 to $ 12k ? If I figure in my marginal tax bracket including Federal, State and SS (both sides) it exceeds 50% so I am earning the equivalent of in excess of $6000 a week taxable. This is like the rate of $300,000 per year after taxes. Beats farming. And I have not even included the cost savings of not needing to take my plane anywhere.

    I understand the possible problem painting at a public airport but what about renting a hangar at a private airstrip (like mine). Actually out here in Gods country many public airports won't care since the hangars are far apart. And dope and fabric work involves spraying so how is this done?
     
  38. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    The same way you do metal airplanes.
     
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  39. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    That's an option there are several around my area that offer that but the facilities are not set up for painting or fabric work.
    Few people do dope and fabric any more and those that do usually have their own set up with most in my region located miles from any airport.
     
  40. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    FYI: Not talking about now but some time in its past. For years seemed every local aircraft had they're own secret belly cleaner solution. Hydraulic fluids, solvents, degreasers, etc mixed in with an equal number of soaps were used to clean exhaust and oil staining on the belly. Those chemicals may have made the exterior look good but usually broke the chemical bond of the paint. Then 20 years later, even if it was repainted over the original paint, you go out to the hangar to wash your aircraft and the paint flakes.