Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wrap scheme - Not as easy as one would think

I ordered 75 feet of 1080 white gloss 3M vinyl as I know (for the moment) that most of the airplane will be white; wings, under belly, fuselage side, gear legs and wheel pants. The top will be blue to match the propeller tip but beyond that I am more than a little vague as to what I want.

I know most have spent hours, days, and years, thinking about their 'paint' scheme. Me? It's been pretty much a 'I'll think about it when I get there'. Yes I have burned up enough hours going through the images on line and walking the flight line at air shows, but to actually have in my head exactly what I want and what I am going to do? No.

I guess I didn't want to jinx my completing the RV8 by giving it a paint scheme. That thinking worked as I now have a completed RV8 but no clue as to what wrap (paint) scheme I want.

The complication now is that I am not going to paint but wrap my RV8. This means a design that works with the vinyl's strengths and weaknesses. It means a design that makes use of the natural breaks on the plane to hide the seams and a layout procedure that has the forward vinyl pieces overlapping the aft ones.

I downloaded the Van's drawings but without the rivet and panel lines, these drawings are of limited use.

So, I wheeled my RV8 out into the gray overcast day and tried to shoot as best I could, the three profile views I would need. I have PhotoShop Elements which came with a scanner I purchased and used it to layer color ideas over these pictures. Another thought I had was to use Autodesk's 123D picture program to create a 3D model of my RV8. One that I could rotate and see my mostly copied scheme from all directions. But I for now consider that to be a project in itself and I just want to get this done.  If you decide to do this please let me or us ( and/or know how it goes.

For the pictures included in this post I show the side view with no colors; faded colors, and full color respectively. The tail section is proving to be a problem and these pictures show that. Any thoughts would be appreciated as I do not like the way the yellow an white just ends at the aft fuselage. But I don't know just yet how to cleanly end it.
 Notice how I use the natural breaks in the airplane (split in cowl, top deck to side panels, etc.) as end lines for the vinyl. A these points I will have my seems. Notice too, I have minimized fancy curves and swirls as remember, I will be using cutting tape and exacto knives.

My N-number has an 'X' in it so that I do not have to put and 'EXPERIMENTAL' decal on the plane. At least I think I can do that.

This is a work in progjess meaning it could all change in a heart beat.

Vansaircraft rv7 vinyl wrap see
 This is the top view in progress.

This last picture is from Vans Aircraft and shows a vinyl wrapped RV7.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fuel Tank Leak Part 2

Denial didn't work. Thread Blocker Green didn't work. So, I have (another) tank leak. I say another as I had some before, removed the tank, spent days testing and making sure there were absolutely no leaks. I went to extremes as I didn't want to deal with them ever again.

Well enough of that.

Realizing now that vinyl wrap is incredibly sensitive to aviation fuel, I also realize that I now have a method of testing my tanks for even the tinniest of leaks. Leaks that would pass the standard tests.

By the way, I will state that air and water tests at best, and I mean at best, find gross leaks. I filled my tanks with aviation fuel and still, this leak got by me. It has been posted many times that aviation fuel will go where most everything else will not..

I had some extra vinyl wrap left over from my color selection process. I used that to cover the rivet lines on both tanks to see if there were other leaks I missed. Also, being curious as to why I didn't see a blue stain on the current leak, I cleaned the rivet and left it exposed. In two or three days I will inspect it to see if there is a blue stain. If not, I will have proven to myself, that the vinyl wrap can detect most any leak.

The pictures speak pretty much for themselves. They show blue (dark colors work best) vinyl wrap along the rivet lines of my starboard tank. I will leave it for a few days to see if I can detect other leaks.

An added benefit is I get a glimpse of how the final wrap will look along the rivet lines. Also, you can see the vinyl wrapped intersection and gear leg fairings.



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Suspected Fuel Tank Leak and Vinyl Patch

 Ok, we started with this (picture on left).

Yesterday, I noticed puckering on the vinyl around one of the rear baffle rivets on my fuel tank. RV builders will know what this probably means.

I too know this implies a small fuel tank leak, but having long ago adopted denial as my first line of defense, I decided to assume there is grease or 'something' underneath preventing the vinyl from sticking.


 Using my utility knife (still waiting on the good knives) and my razor sharp (not) eyeball, I cut a square, ok crude, section of vinyl from around the rivet.

Picture at left shows proseal or grease, but not the blue staining of a tank leak. Could it be that I lucked out?

Only way to find out is to clean up the area with whatever I have available (lacquer thinner today), patch, and watch.
 Some explanation. The swirl marks around the rivet head are from my attempts to use a rivet shaver. I quickly put that tool in the wasted money storage section of my tool box.

Ok this picture shows the cleanup. I will deal with the swirl marks, etc. before I lay the real wrap.
 Ok, I just cut a piece of vinyl and laid it over the affected area. You see an indentation caused by there being two layers around the perimeter.

I had to move around to get the light just right to show this. In fact this blends in pretty good.

But what if I try to inlay the patch using the technique used to repair vinyl flooring?
 This time I broke down and used a straight edge to cut through both layers of vinyl roughly 1/8 inch from the edge of the recessed area.

I removed the excess, gently lifted the edge of the inner section and removed the vinyl from underneath.  I laid down the remaining section and rubbed and heated as best I can.
 The result is not too bad. Realize I went out of my way to get the best light and angle to emphasize the patch. One casually looking at the wing would probably not notice it. Other home builders? They will see it, though not at first glance.

It's one of those things, if you are looking for it, you will see it.

I will leave this on for a few days to see if my luck holds or if I need to stop for tank removal and repair.

 One good thing to come out of this is that I have discovered a simple way to find fuel tank leaks, even the most subtle ones. Cut small strips of vinyl and lay them along the rivet lines of the tanks.

 With the airplane actually wrapped, you can chose to re-wrap the tank rather than patch.

The following are just more pictures of the patch from different angles. The last three are taken outdoors on a cloudy day.

 Next I talk about the ever so important 'paint scheme'. I talk about the scheme I chose, how I resolved my limitations with my wants. et

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Intersection fairings - good place to start

I decided to start my vinyl wrap project with the upper intersection fairings. I figured it would teach me everything I needed to know whilst not consuming tooooo much vinyl.

Here we go...

Through trial and mostly error, it finally dawned on me that I needed to hold down the piece being wrapped. I quickly came to the conclusion that applying vinyl is like working with fly paper.

How much vinyl to cut? I used blue painters tape to wrap the piece (see pics below) and then cut the vinyl to at least twice the size of the pattern to account for the bends and stretches. Using too much vinyl is better than using too little.

 Again through trial and error I learned to start at the end with the most complex curves and work backwards. While applying I used a heat gun and scissors to relieve the tension in the vinyl as I str

 You can watch a helmet being wrapped. Same idea and useful for when you do the wheel pants.

Here we see the main problem encountered when wrapping. The vinyl sticks to itself and bunches up as shown to left.

Putting backing around the edges would help, but I was too lazy to try it here.

This is where I added tweezers to the list of tools.
And this is the finished product.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tinnerman Washers

I used Tinnerman Washers on my Spinner; one of those first time builder overkill moments. I had resigned myself to laying them out and meticulously cleaning and painting each and every one.

I don't want to do that. Frankly, I just want to go flying. So, I wondered if vinyl would give me another option.

Seems it does...

I first decided to just wrap the washers individually like so. I used a utility knife to try and cut around the washer but it was too dull. My Cork Borers and Exacto knife set are still on order, so I used scissors.

This pic shows the final result of individually wrapped Tinnerman washer and screw with vinyl screw head patch (previous post). From 3 inches it looks pretty good, from three feet it looks great.  (Final Step is to push vinyl into screw cross with a Phillips screwdriver.)

But is there a better way? I think cork borers might speed up the process, give more uniform and pleasing results (will update this post when I know for sure) and make slightly better looking washers, but still....

I was getting ready to put my test piece on the spinner, grabbed my screw driver to remove the screw and washer when lazy took over. I just put the vinyl over the screw/washer combo in place.

The result was pretty impressive not to mention surprising. I 'discovered' that I can set these washers permanently under the vinyl and eliminate wrapping each individually. Looks great, even at closer than a foot.

The washer becomes an subtle part of the spinner not a clunky (anal home builder assessment) add on. And no painting.

Added benefit is that you only lose screws when you remove the spinner, not the washers as well.

Ok, enough foreplay, lets wrap something! Next blog I start wrapping the gear leg pieces starting with the upper gear leg fairings.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Screws and Screw Holes

Below are pictures showing the removal and re-installation of screws from the blue test vinyl on the fuel tank/wing intersection. The screw top 'patch' was done with white vinyl to better illustrate the look.

Round vinyl patches were made using both a standard and big hole paper punch. I would recommend a cork bore set.
 OK then, let's get started.

You have installed the vinyl only to discover you have to remove the fuel tank to repair a leak.

So, I nicked the inside of the cross atop the screw head with a sharp blade...well sharp enough anyway. and removed the screw...slowly.

As I removed the screw, the vinyl stretched and slid over the screw head and then down the screw shaft leaving the 'volcano' shape at left.

 I gently pressed the vinyl back into the dimpled hole using my finger and matching dimple die. A rubber pencil tip, actually anything non abrasive would work. I used the dimple die to show you I really did build this airplane.

This is what you get.
 Next I used a heat gun to get this.

Inserted screw and it looks like this. I would coat the head with Boelube or canning wax for additional 'protection'.

Note: Some meticulously remove the vinyl from around the screw head. Me? I look at it as a free vinyl washer that provides a water tight seal.

Now, using my vinyl round patches stamped from aircraft grade (kidding) paper punches, one standard, one large, I covered the exposed screw heads. I used white so you could see it.

 Up close you can see the edge of the patch. Close meaning a few inches to a foot. This is well within my 'looks great' range.

The bare screw heads seem to look better on lighter colors than on really dark ones. I guess on the light (white) the exposed screw heads look like screws and the mind accepts them. On dark, the screw heads look like dings.

I was really quite surprised how easy it was to deal with screws and vinyl. I felt for sure this would be the deal breaker on vinyl. Instead it sealed the deal for me. 
So, my take is that dealing with screws after the wrap will be a 'piece of cake'. For the painted planes, I think the vinyl would be an excellent repair patch. For it is written, he who paints over screw heads will be screwed over when out they must come.

My next post I show that you can wrap Tinnerman washers; in some cases while they are installed on the plane.

Monday, March 9, 2015

FiberGlass Pin Holes

Below is a picture of one of my forward wheel pants. I installed a small piece of vinyl wrap over a particularly pin hole 'infested' section to see if vinyl is more forgiving then paint.

Apparently so:
I loaded the original large file so you could zoom in.
I reworked my fiberglass pieces to get rid of 'most' of the pinholes.

Some of the advantages of vinyl are begining to show through.

The holes in the vinyl were used to cover screw heads.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Vinyl Wrap - Seeing for Myself

Vinyl Wrap - Seeing for Myself

I am experimenting with Vinyl Wrap as a low cost alternative to painting my Van's Aircraft RV-8.

I ordered 3M 1080 series vinyl wrap in small 2' x 5' sections and put a small piece on the wing over the fuel filler cap and covering the junction of the fuel tank and the rest of the wing. If it is going to fail, it will fail here.

I also put a small patch on the spinner.. It has everything wrong about it; multiple layers, exposed edges (into the wind) and no enhancing adhesive.

Why the 3M 1080 series vinyl wrap? Had to start somewhere and this is specifically designed for vehicles. I may switch but as I said this is a learning curve.

Pictures of test patches will follow. No beautifully crafted 30' foot shot of the gorgeous finished wrap, but close ups of the screws and screw ups.

First off, if you spent a lot of money for a meticulously done professional paint job you need not worry that a vinyl wrap will make you wish you hadn't. From the picture above it is obvious that it has a slight orange peel look. For you, my section on dealing with screws and screw holes may be of interest.

That's all for now as I have to get back to sanding my wheel pants.