How I Finish My Planes- Step By Step - RC Groups
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Oct 19, 2003, 07:09 PM
EB-66C Team Member
J Morgan's Avatar

How I Finish My Planes- Step By Step

A few guys here on the Zone have requested that I do a thread on how I finish my planes, so here it is. But first you have to let me get on my soapbox and do a little explaining.
I've been modeling for over 40 yrs, by no means a master, but I do it to satisfy myself. I'm a packrat and collector. I probably have over 1,000 model mags and 400-500 hardback books, mostly about aircraft. Sadly, many of them are in storage now due to space restrictions. I look forward to retirement when I'll have everything together. I've been obsessed with airplanes since I was very young.
My methods come from all the past experiences and some I've learned from others. I do not claim heir to any of these and if I'm using anything that someone else invented, then they have my apology.
My planes are are not Scale Masters quality but made to look really good at about 2' away. A magnifying glass will show mistakes and shortcuts. But if I walk by them, I always look and think, " Man, that's a pretty plane". I hope some of you will read this and it will help you improve your finishing methods.
Feel free at any time to jump right in with suggestions or ask questions. I'm always looking for better methods. I hope to learn more here also.
So, the plane I'll be finishing is the JK Aerotech Mig-3. This is a combat foamie that I like to lighten up and fly elec. This is my 4th in their series and they all fly just great.
I've already done a thread on how I lighten them so I'll start at the point where I start to paint, detail, and finish for the maiden.
This thread will take awhile but I'll try to add to it each day. I'll also have pics of tools and materials I use. Most of these you can find locally. I live in the middle of nowhere and have to make do with what I can find, otherwise it's a week to get materials.
Here's a pic of the plane, carved, sanded, fiberglassed with 0.75 oz and 3 coats of polycrylic ( water based)......
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Oct 19, 2003, 07:11 PM
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J Morgan's Avatar
Oct 19, 2003, 07:12 PM
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J Morgan's Avatar
one more...
Oct 19, 2003, 07:14 PM
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J Morgan's Avatar
so we'll try to turn this bare pink thing into something like this......
Oct 19, 2003, 07:19 PM
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J Morgan's Avatar
First step is to prep for paint. I'll sand the FG/poly with 220 grit lightly and then with 400 grit to finish up. Need a good base for the paint to grab. After that, wipe entire plane down with alcohol( not Jack Daniels) to remove all the finger oils.
After a bit tonight, I'll describe what paints I use and how I lay them on. Stay tuned.
Oct 19, 2003, 07:55 PM
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mike3976's Avatar
J, its people like you that make this such a great hobby, really appreciate you taking time as the old dog to show the pup's some new tricks. Thankyou.
Oct 19, 2003, 08:14 PM
If it floats....sail it!
FoamCrusher's Avatar

Re: How I Finish My Planes- Step By Step

Originally posted by J Morgan
..... fiberglassed with 0.75 oz and 3 coats of polycrylic ( water based)......

You kind of glossed right over the above. It takes a great base to take the paint and look good. Could you expand on what you did and what you used for the fiberglass resin, any filler? What does the polycrylic do?

Oct 19, 2003, 08:41 PM
Registered User
John...Thanks for taking the time to explain your technique...I will be watching very closely...Like going to school again...

Regarding the "polycrylic" I am lost...Would you please give us a brand name or two, and I am guessing it can be bought in a hardware store ??..
Do you asttach the glass cloth with the polycrylic or do you use epoxy resin ??

Thanks again...

Oct 19, 2003, 08:46 PM
EB-66C Team Member
J Morgan's Avatar
Sure Foamcrusher,
The poly seals the foam, attaches the FG, and is the base for the paint. It together with the Fg makes a hard more durable surface. Don't know about other people but I damaged the stab on my B-25 last bringing it back in the door! Had to take 30 min this morning to fix it. The glass and poly prevent alot of hangar rash.
My models are all matte finish. I don't like shiny warbirds. The poly will not fill the weave completely on the FG. If an ultra smooth surface is desired, then mix baby powder with the poly to a creamy texture and then brush on. After completely dry, sand this down. Might take two coats of this but it will give a glass finish for your paint. I feel that not completely filling the weave gives me a matte type non reflective surface. Just my preference.
I use acrylic latex enamel paint, satin finish, then a clear matte coat over it. I'll show the paint and steps tomorrow when I get to painting. Just finished sanding and it's about ready except I forgot to detail the guns in the nose. I'll put them in and then be ready to paint the bottom. I'll post a pic of the particular aircraft I'm copying too.

Mike 3976,
Your welcome!

Oct 20, 2003, 09:08 AM
EB-66C Team Member
J Morgan's Avatar
This is the paint I use. It's acrylic latex enamel, interior satin finish from Ace Hardware. I use either windshield washer fluid or Windex to thin. The surfactant in both helps the paint flow better. My airbrush likes about a 60/40 paint to thinner ratio.
This plane will take about $1.00 of paint or less. I bought 15 quarts of all the primary colors plus some extra and a color wheel and mix my own. At $9.00 per quart, they will last forever. Oh, and when you thin this paint, throw it away whaen you're done. Don't save the thinned paint, it won't keep well.
This pic is of a can of paint I use and sandpaper, 400 grit, cut into a circle. I don't use any squares of sandpaper, the corners scratch and tend to catch and dig into the foam.
Oct 20, 2003, 09:10 AM
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J Morgan's Avatar
And here's the plane I'll be attemping to duplicate.........
Oct 20, 2003, 09:42 AM
Registered User
Very cool John... Thanks keep it coming...
Oct 20, 2003, 10:28 AM
Registered User
I'd be interested to know how much total weight your finishing technique adds to the plane. It seems like the fiberglass would be a little heavy. ??? I'm usually going for lightest weight, but then again, my planes don't look nearly as good as yours do!

- Brad
Oct 20, 2003, 10:34 AM
G G Ghost Pirates !!!
Vyceroy's Avatar
Waiting and watching intently john .. thanks for doing the thread
Oct 20, 2003, 06:32 PM
Registered User
Thanks for taking the time to explain it all. I have used acrylic paints thinned with alcohol for airbrushing with good results too. I really like your way of glassing. I will have to give it a shot.

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