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Long EZ N28EZ...Preparing to paint...

There is almost as much work in the filling, contouring, shaping, and painting as there was in the construction.

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The first step was to decide on the brand of finish that I will be using. For a long lasting, better finish, it is generally agreed that one should only use compatible finishing materials, as detailed in systems provided by a single manufacturer. I originally decided on using the products from Poly Fiber, specifically the Top Gloss system. But after disovering the ease of using Pettit's urethane paints, and their ability to provide a high gloss finish with little extra work, I decided to use that for the top coat over the Poly Fiber filler and primer.

To paraphrase the old ads for the Model T Ford, it will, of course, be painted any color I like, as long as it's white! The primer that they recommend also has a UV protectorant mixed in to protect the fiberglass from the sun.

This is a view of the right wing being sandblasted to prepare the hard, epoxy surface for the filler. I suspended a large tarp from the ceiling and along the floor to help catch the sand and dust. It helped tremendously when it came time to clean up.
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The canopy was masked with two layers of old bed sheets both inside and out before using the sand blaster on the frame. I'll leave the masking in place until after the painting.
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The next step after sanding or blasting the surface, is to clean the part, using the cleaning method recommended by the finish supplier. This is the canard, shiny with water and air drying, immediately after cleaning with Poly Fiber's 310 alkaline cleaner.
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After the cleaning, we start filling. I had actually started the underside of the fuselage late last year using epoxy and microballoons as recommended by the original plans. As you can see by this picture, it filled very nicely. But, the mixing was very time consuming, dusty and difficult. Not to mention the cured fill was very hard and the sanding was terribly difficult and tiring...required too much elbow grease for a man who is supposed to be retired and taking it easy now! So, on advice from many people who have completed their projects, I changed to Super Fil filler. It is made from talc instead of microballoons, and is premixed. I am much happier using that. Absolutely no dust, thorough mixing takes only a few minutes and as I mentioned above, it is one member of the family of products that I intend to use. I haven't started sanding yet, but I understand that it is much easier to sand to the final shape than when using microballoons as a fill.
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Here is a close up of the microballoon fill on the underside of the fuselage and strakes.
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This is the Super Fil filled canard, ready for sanding. As you might think from this picture, I don't leave them out in the sun. They are not protected from the UV rays until the primer is applied. I took this picture while in the process of moving all the parts around and making room in the garage so I could start filling the right wing. I have a relatively large garage, and everything (including, in the winter, the plane, my truck and my car) fit inside with the doors closed.
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And the left wing, which I just finished yesterday. The other wing is now in place ready to get it's filler. Note that the blue tarp has been removed. I used that only for the sand blasting, and will use it again when painting (of course, the entire garage was cleaned from the ceiling to the floor after the tarp was removed and the sand and dust was picked up). The primer is actually designed to go on better, easier and lighter using a roller than by spraying. The entire Poly Fiber Top Gloss family of finishing materials (the filler, Super Fil, the primer, UV Smooth Prime, and the paint, Top, Gloss) are designed for the homebuilder to use.
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The ailerons and one of the elevators, all filled and ready to sand. I did these parts first, and found that I had put the filler on a bit too heavy. No problem, it just means that there will be more sanding, and less filler for the rest of the project. By the time I did the wings, I had learned how to put it on correctly. I have no doubt that after sanding I'll have to fill some low spots again, but the filler adheres to itelf perfectly, so any further preparation before re-filling will be minimal.
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And here we are a few months later. The parts shown here all all filled, primed, sanded and ready for the top coat of glossy, white urethane. In this picture are the cowl halves, the rudders (laying down between the cowls), the ailerons (on edge in front of the cowls), the elevators (on the saw horses with the red tops - with the blue masking tape on them), and the canard in front (with the blue masking tape on the hinge hangers...but you can't see the blue as it is covered in white primer!). The red orbital sander on the left of the bench, and the black radio on the right (what looks like a long dark scratch on the upper cowl is the radio power cord) are not going to be part of the plane!

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Time is flying! Wish the Long EZ was...but I'm still keeping at it steadily. Today, I finished the painting of the canard. Despite what I said about compatible products above, on advice from a couple of other builders, I decided to use Pettit Paint's glossy white single part urethane , mainly because it can be applied with a roller, but secondly because of it's relatively safe fumes. I purchased it at a local West Marine outlet. The results, as you can see here, look as good to me as a spray paint job would!

The elevators were done, and balanced a week or so ago. To support the canard leading edge up, I mounted a couple of shelf angle brackets to the saw horses, and used a couple of corner brackets mounted to the shelf brackets and the canard lift tabs. This allowed me to work on both sides at the same time, and minimize sagging or dripping and any edges that may have appeared if I hadn't been able to see the other side while I was working. A days drying/curing, then down to the hangar, and bring up the next part!


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Today I peeled the masking tape off the canopy and cleaned it up. Spent the last few days sanding the primer/filler and finally putting the two coats of finish paint on it. Too bad the sun's so bright here, the glare on the plexiglass overshadows (so-to-speak) the high gloss shine of the white paint!

Here are a couple of shots of the fuselage primed...top and bottom.


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While it is still too cold out to do any work on the fuselage (installing the fuel valve and the instruments now), I thought it would be a good time to start thinking about a paint scheme. Decided on earth tone stripes.
So, I stayed inside and warm, printed out a full size test and taped it to a winglet. Also taped on the numbers I've decided on. I like!
I've found a company here in Henrietta that'll do them in vinyl graphics for me, so I can stick them on instead of the more difficult painting. Here's how the printer prepared stripes and number look on the winglet...the vinyl ones will be glossier and brighter, so I think it's perfect!


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Well, finished putting the vinyl graphics on the winglets...but it looks a little bit different than the idea I had above. I thought that putting the numbers down low and horizontal like that clashed with the sweep of the stripes...and also required the numbers to be split with some of them moving with the rudder...so I relocated them along the same angle the stripes are...I think it looks much better! With this, all the exterior trim, painting and interior painting is done. Now to finish installing parts on the firewall, and install the engine.


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Comments are welcome, please contact me at: Ageless Wings, Harley Dixon

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© Copyright Harley M. Dixon 1981-2017.
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