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  #1  
Old 03-17-2016, 07:54 PM
Dan Langhout's Avatar
Dan Langhout Dan Langhout is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL USA
Posts: 611
Default Using Paint Masks (warning - lots of photos)

There is another thread going on VAF where the subject of paint masks came up. I made extensive use of paint masks when I painted my RV-7 - and it occurred to me that I had a fair number of photos showing their application and use.

So . . . . here is a sequence of photos showing the process of how I applied one of the paint masks to my horizontal stabilizer and elevator.

Applying paint masks isn’t fundamentally different from applying vinyl graphics except that you can’t use soapy water to help slide them into final position. The positioning has to be accurate as you lay the mask down. My paint scheme had features that spanned the horizontal stabilizer and elevators. To make sure everything lined up, I attached the elevators to the horizontal stab, applied the masks, and then cut through the mask at the elevator/horizontal stab joint line to get the elevators back off. All the items are then painted separately.


In this photo, you can see the mask has been trimmed down to leave just a small border of transfer paper / release paper around the outside of the mask. It has been positioned carefully and the inboard half of the mask has been securely taped down. Small pieces of tape are applied close to the edge of the mask with match marks drawn between the tape and the transfer paper to act as a guide when the mask is being applied.




The outboard half is pulled back over the inboard half.




The release paper is peeled off of the “sticky” side of the mask and is cut off from the remaining release paper under the inboard half of the mask.





The outboard end of the mask is carefully applied to the stab/elevator. This takes 2 hands to keep the mask taut with no wrinkles. Line up the match marks made earlier. A squeegee or body filler spreader is used to work out the air bubbles as you go.





So now the inboard end of the mask is un-taped and pulled back over the just applied outboard end, You can see the cut end of the release paper on the bottom of the mask.





Release paper removed.





Now the inboard half of the mask is applied the same way as the outboard half.





And finally the applied mask after removing the transfer paper. If you look closely, you can see the internal striping details cut into the mask. This mask is un-weeded which means the material inside the stripe areas hasn’t been removed yet. The forward edge of the mask establishes the edge of the red paint on the leading edge. This mask is on the top right of the stab/elevator. There are 3 more masks to be applied to the top left side and to the right and left sides on the bottom. Some hand taping has to be done to “connect” the top and bottom masks.





Final product - horizontal stabilizer . . . . . . . .





. . . . . . . . . and elevators.

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Dan Langhout
2021 =VAF= Dues PAID . . . . .
RV-7 N528DP slow build
First Flight July 26th, 2014
837 hours and counting . . . .
28 Pilots N Paws Flights
Now based at Moontown (3M5)

Last edited by Dan Langhout : 10-15-2017 at 09:14 AM. Reason: Added photo captions
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  #2  
Old 03-17-2016, 08:30 PM
Dan Langhout's Avatar
Dan Langhout Dan Langhout is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL USA
Posts: 611
Default Fuselage painting with paint masks

This shows more of the painting process. If you look closely at some of the photos, you will notice that there is still lots of taping that takes place. After the mask is weeded for each color and the color sprayed, the area has to be taped over before weeding and spraying the next color. Some of the taping is fairly precision work since it might be right next to the next color.

Since I wanted to shoot all the paint within his paint system's re-coat window, the total elapsed time from spraying the white base to spraying the clear coat had to be no more than 72 hours. This required careful planning and some late night spraying sessions to fit in all the tape times and re-mask times.



White basecoat.





Aligning and dry attaching the paint mask. Lots of time spent putting on small pieces of tape with guide marks to assist with keeping the mask accurately aligned when doing the application for real. You only get 1 shot!





Mask attached for real - but with the transfer paper still on.





Unweeded mask applied. The mask only goes so far up on the side. The rest of the masking has to be done with fine line tape. You can see the poster board template I made to assist in laying out the tape.





Closer view of the taping template and applied fine line tape. The template covers from the center “spine” of the fuselage to the paint mask. It is flipped over to do the other side. This insures symmetry between the left and right side.





Red is the first color shot. Top of fuselage to the tape line applied in the previous photo as well as the lower stripe. Obviously I had to weed (pull out the insert) from the paint mask stripe area before I shot.





This photo shows the paint mask weeded for the gold stripe and the gold drop shadows around the N number. You can see that I had to tape over the previously shot red stripe and do some really careful taping where the red stripe passed through the N number.





Ready to shoot gold paint





Gold paint shot.





Gold paint shot.

__________________
Dan Langhout
2021 =VAF= Dues PAID . . . . .
RV-7 N528DP slow build
First Flight July 26th, 2014
837 hours and counting . . . .
28 Pilots N Paws Flights
Now based at Moontown (3M5)

Last edited by Dan Langhout : 10-15-2017 at 09:19 AM. Reason: Added caption text for photos
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  #3  
Old 03-17-2016, 08:30 PM
Dan Langhout's Avatar
Dan Langhout Dan Langhout is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL USA
Posts: 611
Default More Fuselage painting with paint masks

This photo shows the N number digits/letters weeded from the paint mask. This will get blue paint..





The gold stripe and anything gold or red around the N number masked over. Lots of careful taping required around the N number.





Blue paint shot. Since the bottom of the fuselage was also getting blue paint, I just raised the tail and let the weight of the engine keep the tail pinned to the shop ceiling. The shop ceiling has a blue outline of the tail on it to this day.





More blue paint.





So this is the satisfying part. Pulling off all of the masking to see the (almost) final product!
At this stage I was still not done yet. Still had to apply clear coat and then go through the cutting and buffing process - many more hours!

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Dan Langhout
2021 =VAF= Dues PAID . . . . .
RV-7 N528DP slow build
First Flight July 26th, 2014
837 hours and counting . . . .
28 Pilots N Paws Flights
Now based at Moontown (3M5)

Last edited by Dan Langhout : 10-15-2017 at 09:24 AM. Reason: Added caption text for photos
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  #4  
Old 03-17-2016, 09:40 PM
AX-O's Avatar
AX-O AX-O is offline
 
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Location: SoCal
Posts: 2,545
Default

That is cool to see. I really like the shadow effects on the N number.
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RV-4 fastback thread and Pics
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The information that I post is just that; information and my own personal experiences. You need to weigh out the pros and cons and make up your own mind/decisions. The pictures posted may not show the final stage or configuration. Build at your own risk. Further more, these are my opinions and not those of my employer.
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  #5  
Old 03-17-2016, 10:17 PM
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Champ Champ is offline
 
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Location: Kingsville, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 370
Default Wow!

Beautiful paint job. For some reason all I get is ? icons instead of pictures on your first post showing the HS & Elev masking process. It may just be me.

Also revisited the finished product pictures & first flight video previously posted.
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  #6  
Old 03-19-2016, 08:48 AM
aero_tango aero_tango is offline
 
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Posts: 81
Default Nice...

Hi Dan,
Can you tell us more about the paint mask?
It looks like the stripe are pre-cut?
Do you buy the material in roll and cut the mask yourself or send your digital pattern to vendor for cutting?
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  #7  
Old 03-19-2016, 03:16 PM
Rupester Rupester is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Mahomet, Illinois
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Default

Gorgeous paint, Dan. I love both the design AND the execution.
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RV-9A Tip-up; IO-320 D2A
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  #8  
Old 03-19-2016, 05:27 PM
Dan Langhout's Avatar
Dan Langhout Dan Langhout is offline
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Huntsville, AL USA
Posts: 611
Default Vendor Cut

Quote:
Originally Posted by aero_tango View Post
Hi Dan,
Can you tell us more about the paint mask?
It looks like the stripe are pre-cut?
Do you buy the material in roll and cut the mask yourself or send your digital pattern to vendor for cutting?
The process used to make the masks is basically the same as used to make vinyl graphics, etc. In fact, I have had small paint masks done by local sign shops that had the paint mask material.

For stuff this big though, it's better to go with somebody familiar with aircraft painting and large format masks.

In my case, I developed my paint scheme with Scheme Designers Inc. They provided me with a .pdf file of the design which includes lots of detail about layout dimensions, etc which would be helpful for laying it out by hand. I sent this .pdf file to Aerographics out in Loveland, Colorado who then produced the set of paint masks I used for the plane. The cost for the masks was over $1700 in my case, so it was not cheap. The price is driven mostly by the amount of mask material required. Because of my particular layout, a whole lot of square feet of material was required.

All of the details of the scheme are cut into the mask. In the case of the fuselage mask, for instance, the top of the mask establishes the "red" edge; the bottom of the mask establishes the "blue" edge, and the details of the red and gold stripes, the N-number with the drop shadow, etc. are contained within the mask. The mask comes "un-weeded" which means the interior details still have the mask material in place - just cut through for easy removal when it is time to shoot that color.
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Dan Langhout
2021 =VAF= Dues PAID . . . . .
RV-7 N528DP slow build
First Flight July 26th, 2014
837 hours and counting . . . .
28 Pilots N Paws Flights
Now based at Moontown (3M5)
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  #9  
Old 03-21-2016, 04:56 PM
eaglen92ce eaglen92ce is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Chandler, AZ
Posts: 198
Default

It is beautiful! Not just in pictures either. I ran into Dan at Moontown airport one evening on a business trip. The paint job is as good as I have ever seen! His instrument panel is also very impressive. Dan is quite talented!
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Hiperbipe N777HT (sold)
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