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Painting airliners

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  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Painting airliners
Posted by Don Stauffer on Saturday, December 03, 2016 10:04 AM

I have said in the past that painting car models is the most difficult model painting task.  I have changed my mind- painting airiners is the hardest!

I find getting a good gloss finish is much harder than a decent flat finish.  Both civil aircraft and cars usually require a gloss finish.  But, I am finding airliners harder- especially older ones.  Car bodies are usually seperate from the frame and can be finished before assembly.   And most cars do not have that much detail on the body- newer cars and customs, especially.

I find getting a good gloss paint job requires several coats, sanding with fine paper, cloth or sponges between coats.  On airliners and other civil aircraft that means sanding around a lot of small detail (engine nacelles and such), and painting cannot be done before most of the assembly.  I'm currently working on a Boeing 314, and I keep having to tear sandpaper or sanding film into very small pieces that are hard to hang onto.  And a single flaw sometimes requires a whole new coat.  Those flaws sure show up on a good glossy finish.  Worst is the gloss black for Alclad- the Alclad coat needs to be so thin that any and every flaw will show.  At least the 314 doesn't require Alclad :-)

I have been told by other aircraft modelers that the main reason they don't build airliner models is the difficulty of painting them!

The only thing as hard than painting an airliner is painting a pre-ww2 sports car!

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Saturday, December 03, 2016 1:46 PM

Hello Don!

It's hard to disagree with you on this one! I don't build so many airliners, but when I do, I try to separate the build into subassemblies that can be painted separately - like on the Boeings you can leave off the engines and horizontal stabs for painting. Of course this is only doable when the fit is good enough - so you don't have to fill and sand after painting... I also keep the antennae separate and add them after painting. Sometimes I even cut off the antennae that are molded together with the hull half and replace them after the major painting is done.

Even after one uses all the tricks like those described, it's still a hard job to do. But I think it's worth doing, because when done those airliners can look really nice!

Thanks for reading and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    February, 2006
  • From: Boston
Posted by Wilbur Wright on Saturday, December 03, 2016 3:10 PM

Hi Don,

Yes gloss painting can be a real bear.  On my London Bus (now finished) , a small flaw meant repainting a whole section, there is just no way around it sometimes.  Then because I used enamels you have to give it a week to cure to avoid fingerprints when handling.  My big Heller A380 is on here somewhere and that was very hard to get right with multiple coats and wet sanding, in that case Tamiya acrylic gloss white, decaled then sealed a week or more later with MM gloss laquer.

I'm now building the Italeri 360/19 Magirus Deutch 1/24 "Canvas" truck and I can tell you the paint planning is not easy.  If you recall my 1/12th Tamiya Lotus 67, that was a very tough paint job, and a lot of curing time between color coats .

 

I guess you have to be in the right mindset to get into a complex gloss painted model.

Once spec of dust in the right place will ruin your week.

Frankly I don't know how the truck and car guys do this all the time. I have a 48th scale Osprey going concurrently with the truck and it is so much easier dealing with flat ghost gray, that will be weathered.

 

 

  • Member since
    January, 2003
  • From: Washington State
Posted by leemitcheltree on Saturday, December 03, 2016 5:41 PM

Don, for airliners I use acrylic laquer - the stuff they use on cars.  I often use rattle cans and use a short length of drinking straw to decant it into my airbrush jar.  Let it de-gas a bit and throw some laquer thinner in.....it goes down very thin and provides great cover.

It dries HARD, and very quickly, and is very easy to polish to a super smooth gloss.  It's easier than enamels, and is far more forgiving.  It's never failed me yet.

Cheers, LeeTree Remember, Safety Fast!!!
  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Saturday, December 03, 2016 5:56 PM

Hello!

Just what I was going to add here - the right chemistry helps a lot. There are paints out there that don't have you wait for days to really dry, so using them makes the work a lot easier. My favourite automotive paint is still Motip, but the important detail I learned while painting my VW Bus is to use the yellow filler/primer as the first coat to avoid a potentially nasty reaction with the underlying plastic. Another thing I like to mention would be to seal the decals with Alclad gloss clear before putting on Motip clear - Some automotive paints have a bad tendency to dissolve the decals, so try on a scrap before messing with your model! Good luck with your builds and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    March, 2013
Posted by patrick206 on Saturday, December 03, 2016 10:08 PM

Over the years I've had great luck with plain Jane Testors little jar enamels, for gloss finishes. It's a bit fiddly, I thin it to maybe 50/50 or even thinner, usually use a Badger 200-G gravity, med. needle, at about 15 psi.

I spray several coats, especially with white. Best results are with a white or light gray primer. Number of coats might be as high as 8-10, applied very lightly. Usually about 5-10 minutes between coats is sufficient, at 70 degrees or warmer.

The finish is dead smooth and glossy, I usually don't do a gloss clear, except for decal coverage. I wait about a week to ensure sufficient dry time, before handling.

First attempts weren't all that great, but with time it worked out. Favorite method now. I realized soon that very good lighting was a real requirement, for "reading the flow" of paint layers coming together with each airbrush pass. If they don't meld, you get a pebbly surface.

Really gives a nice white fuselage for airliners.

Patrick

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Sunday, December 04, 2016 12:24 PM

I think I am going to try lacquers again.  I had problems in the past with the stuff drying in my airbrush, but folks say if I add retarder that won't be a problem.  Or, I am trying now flat enamel as being easier to put on.  But then, of course, it will take two coats of glosscoat, one before decals and one afterwards.  I can do the things with gloss enamel- it just takes me so much longer than when I do military birds.

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Lakewood, CO
Posted by kenjitak on Thursday, December 15, 2016 8:21 PM

My favorites for glossy finishes is Tamiya primer, then Tamiya lacquer spray, and finished off with their TS-13 clear, all decanted and used in my airbrush. Each coat dries in about 30 minutes or so. Great stuff!

Ken

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Friday, December 16, 2016 6:37 AM

Others in my local clubs have suggested this to me. I may have to try it.  I don't like the cost of Tamiya primer ( I use a lot of it) but the speed is appealing.

I am working on a 1:144 Boeing 314.  This is turning out to be a horrible project as far as painting.  I used a silver enamel that was too bright for the Pan Am livery, so I covered it with Testors Aluminum.  No compatibility problems.  I guess my workshop is just too dirty, or maybe it is winter dryness but every coat ends up with crud in a few spots, and in areas where a blend line would probably show if I did only a partial coat (everything but the bottom is the same color, so there is no natural color seperation line - bottom color is along a chine line).

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    January, 2003
  • From: Washington State
Posted by leemitcheltree on Saturday, January 14, 2017 4:52 PM

Don, Kenjitak has some good advice.  Those Tamiya laquer rattle cans, decanted and thinned and sprayed in your airbrush, work incredibly well.  Dries fast, hard, and if you're quick, you can obtain a fantastic gloss.  The Tamiya paint also polishes very, very well with high-end automotive polishes.  Use the "wet shine" types - the ones with the least amount of grit.  Meguires makes fantastic polishes...and the NOVUS polishes are simply fantastic.  And they're quite affordable.

Cheers, LeeTree Remember, Safety Fast!!!
  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: New Braunfels , Texas
Posted by Tanker - Builder on Sunday, January 15, 2017 10:28 AM

Don ;

   The few civil aircraft I've done lately have been sprayed in sections .The natural metal areas are foil Chrome .The painted areas are done before final assembly .Then using a thin mix of the final color with clear is airbrushed on the remainder after assembly .

    This is why it takes so long for me to build even a Cessna . I make sure fuselage to wing joints etc. are so tight ( or as tight as I can get them ) that all will be hidden in the last spray which is over the joints .

 The biggest thing is this . I use a method I used on real cars in my body shop years ago . I stopped at panel lines and if say a quarter panel had none ,( Chrysler's coke bottle bodies ) I kept frosting with color and clear till there was no difference in the surface after curing , then a total clearcoat over the whole car .

 This does work for models . It is time consuming but doable .As for crud , well get a big plastic cake container to let it cure in . Put it in there Before you even clean your airbrush .Then move around the work area , cleaning the tools and table . Raise no dust . Just put it in the container while still very wet . I have good luck with all my Gloss painting this way .

   My cars usually spend a month in there . Yessir ! No hurry on my part . T.B.

  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Lakewood, CO
Posted by kenjitak on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 4:41 PM

Try wiping down the model with a tack cloth just before you spray. That makes a big difference for me.

Ken

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Thursday, January 26, 2017 9:10 AM

kenjitak

Try wiping down the model with a tack cloth just before you spray. That makes a big difference for me.

 

ditto

Also, I started using a Kleenex as a tack cloth-  turned out to be a bad idea.  The Kleenex tissue left a bunch of lint itself.  Now I either use a cotton cloth or some tack free tissues (Kimwipes).

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    February, 2006
  • From: Boston
Posted by Wilbur Wright on Friday, January 27, 2017 3:37 PM

I've been having a problem lately with dust.  I'm also a woodworker and understand attempting to get a dust free finish in that dicipline.

  I think I may start to use a newly opened  tack rag and dab it up and down as opposed to wiping across a model, in order to avoid any residue from the rag getting on the model.

I bought a large box at the local shipping center to cover a wet model with.  Haven't used it yet.  I'll have to wipe down the inside of that box to get any dust that may be present.

I've never heard of Kim wipes Don, do they have an adhesive on them to pick up dust like a tac rag?

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Friday, January 27, 2017 11:33 PM
If the finish is good, try shooting future floor wax as a final coat.
  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Saturday, January 28, 2017 9:39 AM

Wilbur Wright

I've been having a problem lately with dust.  I'm also a woodworker and understand attempting to get a dust free finish in that dicipline.

  I think I may start to use a newly opened  tack rag and dab it up and down as opposed to wiping across a model, in order to avoid any residue from the rag getting on the model.

I bought a large box at the local shipping center to cover a wet model with.  Haven't used it yet.  I'll have to wipe down the inside of that box to get any dust that may be present.

I've never heard of Kim wipes Don, do they have an adhesive on them to pick up dust like a tac rag?

 

No, no adhesives.  Since I normally paint with enamel, I wet the cloths with isopropyl alcohol.  A tack rag does not absolutely need an adhesive coating- usually just a damp coating will pick up dust okay.

Kim wipes are made by Kimberly Clark company.  They are made for industrial usages.  I believe I ordered mine from Amazon- not sure. If Amazon does not have them, google them.

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 9:23 PM

Future floor wax has been a modelers trick for a long time.  I've used it on my 1/48 figherter canopies for a while.  It gives that crystal clear appearance.  Here's my first airliner.  Not a contest winner, but the coat of future floor wax gives a nice even coat and sheen.  

 

 

 

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: Twin Cities of Minnesota
Posted by Don Stauffer on Wednesday, February 01, 2017 9:12 AM

keavdog

...  Here's my first airliner.  Not a contest winner, but the coat of future floor wax gives a nice even coat and sheen.  

 

 

 

 

Very nice!

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

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