Finishing the Paint


With 90% of the dust specks buffed out, master painter Bryan inspects my work while Les watches.  You don't often get to see this kind of work up close, and even though - as editor of European Car Magazine - where Les sees Bentleys, Austin-Martins, Ferraris, Lambos, and super-cars from Pagani, Koenigsegg, & Spyker- he is in awe of the work Bryan produces.

I Purchased a bunch (11) of the 20/9 Vario aluminum grille sheets.  I like these as they are 3D metal mesh, as opposed to a flat 2D mesh.  The problem is, since they are 3D, the surface of the mesh is all "edges", and standard paint would wear off very quickly.  I sent them all to an anodizer and when they came back, it takes a LOT of pressure with a blade or screwdriver tip to take the color off - basically, you have to penetrate into the metal!

I tried one layer of the mesh, but it was too transparent for my tastes.  I want to obscure the mechanics more than a single layer would allow me to.  The 3D mesh makes it easy, as it "self aligns" when layered on-axis, and a slight offset gave me the opacity I was looking for.  I affixed the mesh to the inside of the fuselage with "spot welds" of thick CA.  I found that the thick CA does not run too much, and a handy acid brush dipped in accelerator allows you to just move along, "spot welding" as you go.  Not super strong, but it holds everything in place perfectly.  I then used Aeropoxy to permanently affix the mesh.  the applicator allows me to "squirt" the glue through the mesh until it contacts the fuselage.  The blue tape is there to maintain the shape of the cowling.  The mesh was actually spreading the cowling, so I taped it to have the epoxy cure into the proper curve.

Here you can see the entire upper side completed.  I used 4 layers of mesh for the jet intakes at the top (middle of the photograph below).

Spray paint or airbrushing was out of the question, but the white Aeropoxy was visible as you looked through the top of the cowling to the inside of the opposite side.  So, I broke out the paintbrush and did the job by hand. 

Well, the inevitable happened!!! While finishing the bottom of the right-hand door, I "burned" through the clear coat and exposed paint.  Oh well, at least it is a door, and can easily be masked.  First, I sanded the area with #1000 grit to prep it for re-paint, then put the entire heli in a large plastic garbage bag.  Making a small hole in the bag allowed me to completely isolate the door, protecting the rest of the heli from overspray.

A quick layer of color paint, then the clear coat makes the door just as good as new!

Bryan had cut me some stainless steel exhausts to replace those silly plastic ones that came with the kit.  What we wanted however, was the discoloration that comes from use on an aircraft.  Bryan played with it for a while on some scraps, and we discovered that the secret to that nice blue tone is... AIR!  If you heat the pipes up, and hit them with compressed air as they are transitioning from yellow to orange (yes- hot indeed!), you get that real nice blue-ish tint that transitions to brown, then yellow.  Simply terrific!

Again, I wanted 4 layers of mesh rather than just a "hole" into the fuselage.  By cutting ovals of mesh 15mm wider than the tube itself, then cutting a series of 7mm slits around the periphery of the mesh, I was able to form the mesh over the edge of the exhaust, again tacking it with CA.  Below, you see it masked prior to final "sealing" with Aeropoxy.

Finally, here you can see the top of the doghouse, and start getting a feel for what the final product is going to look like.  Unfortunately, this camera just not do justice to the finish, we will have to wait for Les to do his "Pro" photo shoot when I am all done!



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Professional Photography by Les Bidrawn    |    © 2010