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Old Nov 02, 2007, 02:00 PM
aeronautic freak
Chrono's Avatar
Lima, Perú
Joined Mar 2007
43 Posts
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Balsa Painting Basics

Hello!!!

I have two questions for you people. What techniques and materials can I use to paint (airbrush) balsa (like a fuselage) and obtain a glossy shiny finish (like that of a car paint)? I'm currently painting the fuselage of my sailplane and the wood grain of the balsa still shows through the painting.

The second question is: is there any kind of iron-on fabric of light weight that can be painted?

Thx!!
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Old Nov 02, 2007, 02:51 PM
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Southwest Missouri
Joined Oct 2002
1,354 Posts
You are going to have to add a lot of weight to the wood to get a 'car paint' type of finish. Lots of wood sealer, primer and such.

Can cover the wood with a tissue first to help seal the wood but would still add weight and work.

Many of the plastic type coverings can be painted. When I flew glow and covered wood airplanes with MonoKote I painted large areas with Acrylic Enamel.

I masked the area to be painted, cleaned the area with grease/wax remover, lacquer thinner, or similar. Scuffed the area with Grey (fine) scuff pad (available at auto paint and body supply shops), re-cleaned, tacked and sprayed. Two light coats are better than one heavy coat.

From what you said I would think covering with a light weight iron-on and then a light coat of paint would be close to what you want.

Otherwise, unless someone here has a better suggestion, only way I know of would be the tissue over wood, sealer, primer, paint, clear-coat route.
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Old Nov 03, 2007, 09:36 PM
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S.E. Michigan
Joined Feb 2006
849 Posts
In my experience Mode 1 is pretty much right on. I have done it exactly the way he says and you will get the result you want but it's a lot of work and it's certainly not the lightest way to go. One big thing to remember is that paints are usually shrinking for a good while after you apply them. Don't even think of doing more than one coat in a day and guys who are looking for that knock 'em dead custom car type paint wait a week or more between coats when they get down to the nitty gritty.
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Old Nov 06, 2007, 09:25 AM
aeronautic freak
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Lima, Perú
Joined Mar 2007
43 Posts
Wow, that sound like a lot of work. As for the weight, I don't think that suits a sailplane then. But maybe the technique would work in a glow plane, just adding a little more power.

I'll wait for the next time I build a glow plane to test the technique. The rule of waiting a day between coats also applies to wood sealer? also, how many coats of wood sealer/lacquer are necessary before primer so that wood grain doesn't show through?

My last question is about the fabric... do you know if coverite fabric can be painted? I think it comes pre-painted, I'm looking for one fabric covering that doesn't, so I can apply custom paint.

Thanks a lot for your replies.
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