The prime mission for N50KB during the ’18/19 winter has been to be painted. During most of the build I have had a design in mind, inspired by some of the spectacular paint jobs seen at EAA Airventure Oshkosh.
In November I started hunting for a professional paint shop as soon as we arrived in Florida. During a visit to their shops, each of three bidders was shown a black and white sketch depicting the design. We had a good discussion of what I wanted and they gave me an approximate cost.
It is amazing the range of prices I encountered. The highest price was 240% of the lowest. I chose Fosters Aircraft Restoration located on the Lakeland, Florida airport (KLAL), the home of Sun-N-Fun. Although the high bidder has an excellent shop, the price was beyond my budget. The owner of the lowest bid price shop was moving to a new location and could talk better than listen.
I found John Foster easy to work with. His shop is huge. On my first 12/13/2018 visit there were seven aircraft in the preparation area. These included two helicopters, a Citation jet, and other cabin class twins. His reputation for quality work is outstanding. Attached to the preparation hangar are three large (50′ x 50′ ?) paint booths. I told John I wanted Fosters to do the job and accepted the three month wait till a March 11th start.
As I write this on May 14th, the painting is almost done.
As part of the deal, Dolly and I were to disassemble and reassemble N50KB.
For the first step in the process Fosters crew masked surfaces that were not to be painted, and ScotchBright scored the aluminum surface. Then an acid wash was applied to promote adhesion of the following coats. This was followed by an alodyne anti-corrosion coating. Next as shown below all metal surfaces were sprayed with a two part epoxy primer.
There was considerable body work to be done in front of the tip-up canopy where it meets the front fuselage skin. I was amazed how the crew was able to make a 1/8″ mismatch disappear. Further, they were dissatisfied with their first attempt, removed the faring, and did it over at their own initiative. That has been their approach to the whole process allowing no blemish to exist. However, each of these steps takes time and the original four to six weeks has inflated to nine.
Near the end of April the white paint had been sprayed. Dolly and I drove to Lakeland to install the cowl and tail feathers, enabling the layout of masking for color stripes.
I visited Fosters last Thursday and most of the color work is complete with just some small areas to be painted. It is coming along nicely.
Tomorrow Dolly and I travel to Lakeland to begin reassembly. Vinyl N number, wing walk material and other decals are yet to be applied.