And Just Like That... It's Done

Happy owner!
Happy owner!

It's finished! Well, mostly finished... as finished as an airplane, or a paint job, can ever be. Painter John Stahr put the final touches on a number of small details, and fixed a few more spots where paint had sneaked through masking around rivet heads, all in preparation for the final clear coat on the fuselage and tail sections.

Masking in preparation of a little touch-up at a rivet.
Masking in preparation of a little touch-up at a rivet.
Adding a detail to the tailfeathers.
Adding a detail to the tailfeathers.
Adding the artist's signature to the back of the fuselage.
Adding the artist's signature to the back of the fuselage.

Adding the artist's signature to the back of the fuselage.

Preparation for clear coating was extensive - no dust was going to be allowed to mess up the final finish! As Stahr worked on his details, I worked at cleaning things up - wiping down the airplane several times for dust, vacuuming the floor, and putting away extra equipment. The clear coat, Stahr warned, was going to coat EVERYTHING in the vicinity, so it was best to keep the number of things around the airplane to a minimum. We also cleaned the area upstream of the paint booth, the parts of the shop where air was going to be drawn from - this would keep dirt and dust from being pulled into the air. Finally, just before shooting the clear, we locked the doors - the last thing we needed was for a well-meaning helper to pop in and stir up dust which would have been sucked into the booth.

A little nose art with a nod to a re-fueling port. The owner also wants to avoid anyone pushing down on the fiberglass cowl.
A little nose art with a nod to a re-fueling port. The owner also wants to avoid anyone pushing down on the fiberglass cowl.

All the prep work paid off - in a coating of clear coat, the fuselage art began to shine, and in a matter of forty-five minutes, it was done. The guns were put away and it was time for a break. A few neighbors came by to share some barbecue - a way to thank them for their help during the week - and that also gave the final coat a chance to set up without being disturbed. When the meal was finished, the paint was ready - and it was time for the reveal.

For the first time in a week, the big hangar door was opened, and the airplane shone brightly in the evening sun - the team moved in to pull paper and tape, and like removing the bandages after plastic surgery, the beauty was immediately apparent. The finished airplane is a masterpiece of Stahr's work - and is ready for a few pre-inspection inspections to get her ready for licensing.

Time for the reveal! All the masking paper was removed by the extended team of neighbor-helpers.
Time for the reveal! All the masking paper was removed by the extended team of neighbor-helpers.
A mirror was used to help folks view the belly art.
A mirror was used to help folks view the belly art.
The SubSonex is ready to fly! Just needs its airworthiness certificate.
The SubSonex is ready to fly! Just needs its airworthiness certificate.

One last artistic touch. Stahr works on adding a special touch to the tail fairing.One last artistic touch. Stahr works on adding a special touch to the tail fairing.

One last artistic touch. Stahr works on adding a special touch to the tail fairing.

We'll let you know when she's ready to fly!

Time-lapse video from the final day:

Paul Dye

Paul Dye, Kitplanes® Editor in Chief, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the space shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and a Subsonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor, and Flight Advisor, as well as a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

2 Replies to “And Just Like That... It's Done”

  1. Thanks for the pictures. Our church "Classics"group took a tour of the New Richmond air port last fall which is near us and got a lot of interesting information on aviation there. Yes they have a jet landing strip! So drop in for a visit!

  2. Thanks for the series, really enjoyed following along. Great looking design and airplane! Fantastic work by John.

    Would it be possible to get a general list of materials used like
    types of tape, paper, stencils, primer, paint, clear coat, and then even list of tools needed? This was a very informative article and there is lots for us amateurs to learn about!

    Regards,
    Tony Bolstad

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