Painting has begun

Tail feathers in the paint booth
Tail feathers in the paint booth

“Make sure that you glue this down or it will not look right when you paint.”

“Cut that straight, or it won’t look right when you paint.”

“Don’t spill glue or you’ll see it when you paint.”

Yeah, yeah. I could hear Robby’s voice in my head these past months. I tried to make sure that I followed his example and his instructions. And I got pretty good at it. The tapes were all attached properly. I ironed down the edges to make sure they were flat. Well, lots of times I did. And overall the covering job looked pretty good. I’d even had some much more experienced builders look over my work and they said that it did indeed look pretty good.

Then I grabbed the paint gun that is apparently a mystical device of unspeakable power. It can reveal, with merely the faintest wisp of paint, every…single…mistake…you ever made.

The first pass, on the first tail feather, in the first two seconds, revealed mistakes from stem to stern. I know that tape was attached. Why is it sticking up. Didn’t I seal that edge? When did that thread stick up? I know I trimmed it clean.

After applying primer to two pieces, I went back and prepped all the other pieces with a newly calibrated eye. It took at least a full day to go over everything again, with lots of regluing, ironing, and fussy micro work. But the results were much better when the next application of primer was laid down.

As of today, we are several days into painting. We’ve been heating the barn as much as we can, bringing it up to about 70 degrees, which allows us to cure the paint properly and use the reducer that we have on hand. Most pieces have about 4 coats of primer, and all but the flaps have been sanded.

At this point, the idea is to give a light sanding to all the finished pieces and then set them aside. The flaps and the few remaining pieces that need another coat will get some sanding and another two coats of primer. Once those are done, the fuselage and the wings will be moved into the paint booth, one at a time. Those will take a good bit of time because they are so much bigger, and require taping off of protected areas. But once they are done, we’ll start spraying color onto the plane and finally reveal what this plane is going to look like.

So far, I’ve enjoyed painting the plane. The work had been enjoyable and the paint booth and paint gun are working as advertised. I hope the rest of the painting process is as enjoyable.

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