Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rejuvenation -- Stripping the plane

The first step in an aircraft paint job is to prepare the surface for paint. This means stripping. Paint adds many pounds to an aircraft and the best paint jobs start with a good prep. I have heard of people painting over the old paint but this is generally a bad idea. Paint sticks best to a primer coat and a primer coat sticks best to a clean metal surface.

There are several chemical methods to strip paint and these are the most commonly used. The other option is sanding, but that is hard work and hard on the airplane. We were looking for a quick and environmentally clean method. We chose to strip the plane using Soda Blasting. This is kind of like sand blasting but using much more delicate baking soda. The process took two days and cost a little over $3,000. I felt that this was expensive, but it was fast, effective, and environmentally safe. The surface of the blasted plane was very nice for paint application. Once the blasting was done we went over the entire airframe and floats to look for damage that needs to be repaired. Can you feel the pain of my wallet?

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