Finishing Nose Components

Chapter 25 – Finishing Nose NG30 Covers & Tool Box

15 April 2017 — The remaining micro that I didn’t use for filling the gaps on the aft NG30 cover (see Chap 13 – Nose), I used to cover the forward NG30 cover for finishing.  I taped up the felt mounting pad for the Matco parking brake, then slathered on the micro.

Quite a number of hours later I spent a good 20 minutes sanding down the micro on the forward NG30 cover.  The micro was still in its sweet spot “green” stage allowing me to cheese grate it, meaning it sanded way easier than if fully cured and comes off in clumps versus micro dust.

Also, here’s a shot of the tool box lid that I micro’d up with some leftover MGS epoxy that I had earlier in the day.  I also cheese grated the lid as well, although I didn’t get an after shot of it . . . yet.

•••

17 April 2017 — Today I assembled some of the nose pieces that I would be working on (clockwise from the top): tool box lid, battery tray, and forward NG30 cover.  This pic was taken after I sanded the tool box lid and forward NG30 cover with 32 grit sandpaper.  In addition, I had done an initial rough trim on the battery box flange, and right after this pic was taken I trimmed the sides of the battery box flange….

And yet another shot of all the parts I would be working with: the front & aft NG30 covers, and the tool box lid & body.  The front NG30 cover and tool box lid will get 3 epoxy wipes, with 2 hours in between the coats.  The aft NG30 cover and the tool box body will both get slathered up with micro for finishing.

This is epoxy wipe #2 (I think . . .) on the forward NG30 cover and the tool box lid.

And here is the aft NG30 cover and the tool box both slathered up with micro.  I did the tool box first, and you can see that the micro I applied to it was a bit wetter than it should have been, although it still sanded out fine (as you can see below).

Below represents a good hour’s worth of solid sanding between the NG30 cover and the tool box body.

•••

18 April 2017 — Today was a long build day overall, but not an overly productive one.  The reason being that today was essentially epoxy wipe day for the tool box . . .

And the aft NG30 cover.

After prepping the parts late this morning, I applied the first epoxy wipe (using West) and then waited 2 – 2.5 hours and then added the next coat, waited and then repeated.  I applied a total of 4 coats of epoxy before letting them alone to cure overnight.

With the aft NG30 cover and tool box body epoxy wipes curing, I checked them one last time and then called it a night.

•••

19 April 2017 — Today I started by taking another shot of the tool box lid and forward NG30 cover for posterity’s sake, just before I sanded them for primer coating.

I then sanded the tool box lid to prep it for primer.

And then did the same for the forward NG30 cover.

Here’s the tool box lid and forward NG30 cover in GRAY (although it almost looks white) primer.

I didn’t get a pic for posterity’s sake for the lower tool box body, so here it as after I primered it.

Again, although this looks white, the lower tool box body really is in gray primer here after a quick sand down and re-wash (I use Simple Green to wash my parts, a trick I learned when painting motorcycles).  This pic shows it right before I shot it with black paint

I then shot the tool box body black with 2 coats.

This is a couple of hours later than the pic above.  You can see the paint leveled out quite a bit as it cured, and it really does look good.  It’s not perfect, and if it were an external part or in constant view I would probably wet sand it and shoot it one more time, or clear coat it.  But this tool box is going into the nose, with the body mostly covered by the battery and the lid, so I’m going to call this good and press on.

For the NG30 covers, being much larger center pieces when the nose is opened up, I decided to clear coat them from the get go.  Still, nothing too fancy.  I grabbed some flat white Rustoleum primer and am using that for the base coat.  After the base coat cures, I’ll wet sand it and then I’ll hit it with a few rounds of clear.  Depending on how that turns out, I may do one final wet sanding and another coat or two of clear (sorry the pic quality, it seems my phone has been having issues focusing lately.  I think I’m going to have to switch back to the camera ….)

I had to do a fair amount of sanding after the first round of primer on the tool box lid, so I went ahead and re-primered it with another couple of coats.  After I good amount of time I picked it up in ham-fisted fashion to see how it looked, and disturbed the primer on the top side.  So, I hit it again with a good wet coat of primer on the top and let it cure some more.  After a bit of time went by, I threw it under a heat lamp for a couple of hours to get it nice and cured.  I then re-sanded it, gave it a Simple Green bath and then hit it with 3 coats of black.  FYI, this black is primer + gloss black paint mix.

•••

21 April 2017 — Although I didn’t get a lot done today I think it was fairly significant.  I started off by sanding the entire aft NG30 cover down in preparation for priming.  That was nearly an hour effort in and of itself.  It’s interesting how “straight” these components can look to the naked eye, but once you apply micro and sand it down, then even the subsequent sanding after a few coats of epoxy, you see how off it was from the beginning.  No worries of course because that’s exactly what the finishing process is all about.

After I sanded it, I washed it down with Simple Green and set it outside on my truck tailgate in the sun to dry thoroughly.

I then took the aft NG30 cover around to my side yard and hit it with 3 coats of primer.

Here’s a couple more shots after I brought it back into the garage.

I then wet sanded the tool box lid with some 500 grit sandpaper.  It looked like all the imperfections were gone, so I cleaned it up, and printed out a label for it (which I mistakenly roughed up just barely with the 500 grit sandpaper).

Labels are notoriously difficult to clear coat, so I misted it a couple of times before hitting it with a full application of clear coat.

However, I think unlike the regular Rustoleum paint with its “few minutes” between coats, the clear coat has a quicker flash time in between coats (my current guess, but I’ll have to research more) because what started out as minor workable orange peeling turned into cracks that would put those in the Gobi Desert to shame!  In short, adding the label and clear coat Round 1 was a GIANT FAIL!

Ok, lessons learned and back to the drawing board . . .

•••

22 April 2017 — I have to admit when I first pulled these pics up on my phone I was wondering what the heck I had taken a picture of…

But, alas, since I sanded down through the actual epoxy wipes into the micro layer on each side of the cover in its never-ending contouring cycle, I created (or uncovered) some pin holes… which of course is the main things the epoxy wipes eliminate.

So, before doing some electrical diagram administrivia this morning, I did some quick epoxy wipes in a few targeted areas on the aft NG30 cover.

•••

24 April 2017 — I started off today by sanding down the top of the tool box lid with a straight sanding board with 80 grit on it.  I took it down until it was level and then hit the top & sides a bit more lightly with 180 grit.  I then washed it up & prepped it for a reapplication of high build primer.

I tossed around the idea of just going back in with paint, but it’s going to need a couple of rounds of TLC for the surface to be ready for paint.  That being said, I just hit it with one medium coat and called it good.

I then spent over 1.5 hours on prepping the aft NG30 cover for final primer.  The top left forward corner and lower left edge where it meets the NG30 plate were both a bit shallow, so I added in some glazing putty to fill it in.  I use the same stuff I did when I was building my custom motorcycle: Evercoat’s Metal Glaze.  It works like a dream… mixes fast and creamy, and fills very smoothly.  It also sands great as well.

I filled one depression on the right side of the cover, and the upper forward corner area on the right as well.

After sanding down the filler and blending it in, I then hit the aft NG30 coat with 2 more coats of primer.

If you look closely, you can see the bleed through of the filler to the surface.  I’ll lightly sand the cover one more time, then most likely hit just these areas again with primer before final paint.  It may seem like I’m being overly fussy, but just like in composites, the prep in painting is really what takes the longest.  The final few coats of base coat (or final here) is the culmination of a lot of prep.  I just want to get this finish dialed into an acceptable level (yes, it doesn’t help that I’ve done body work & painting before… in that I’m sure it makes me a bit more picky) so every time I look at it I don’t get a gnawing feeling that I left a half hour more work on the table to clear up a minor, yet glaring, imperfection.

I was going to use a white primer on both the NG30 covers, then simply clear coat them. However, the primer I picked up was just not bright enough white for me to go on as the final color.  So while I was out I picked up some actual paint (vs primer) and will just go with that, like I did on the tool box.

I then sanded down the boat paint trial application off the GPS antenna cover that will crown my headrest, and also prepped the forward NG30 cover.  I hit the GPS antenna cover with a couple rounds of primer while I final coated the forward NG30 cover with 2 coats of gloss white.  I’m using gloss on a few of the internal nose components (the GPS antenna cover will not get gloss) just to make them pop a bit and stand out from the otherwise mass of matt finish that will be the main finish in the nose compartment and cockpit.

I was doing some research online about Rustoleum paint, and ran across something that made sense to me: since rattle can paint & primer doesn’t incorporate a reducer (like auto paint), it takes a few days to really off-gas and cure to a good point.  I noticed this dynamic on the lower tool box, thus I figured I would leave this stuff alone for at least 24-30 hours before working on it again.

[NOTE: For the time being, with a lack of a better place to put it, I’m including the GNS480 GPS antenna cover here…]

•••

25 April 2017 — Today I touched up the aft NG30 cover with just a couple dabs of metal glaze and gave it another good epoxy wiping to eliminate some more pin holes that popped up.  As you can see, I also slathered up the tool box lid to hopefully remove the minor surface irregularities that have been plaguing me in trying to get this one small part painted!

In addition, although taken quite a number of hours after I applied 3 coats of off-white primer, here’s a shot of the GNS480 GPS antenna cover that will sit atop my headrest. Since I had to go to town on it to remove the thick layers of my boat paint trial application, it too will need some TLC to smooth out the finish on it as well.  Regardless, the color you see below will pretty much be the final color for this piece.

•••

26 April 2017 — Today I did the final sanding on the aft NG30 cover after the final application (hopefully) of Metal Glaze and epoxy wipes to clear up some minor blemishes & pin holes. I sanded down the cover, focused on dialing in the final surface prep for paint. Of course some of underlying filler broke through, but no worries since I hit it with a light colored primer.

I then applied 3 coats of white primer to lock in my surface prep work.  I’m sure there’s a good chance that I’ll have to do some more minor fills, and possibly even another coat of white primer, but as you can see it’s definitely looking more & more polished!

•••

29 April 2017 —  Today I spent a decent amount of time sanding down the perpetual painting project from hell: the nose tool box lid.  This thing has given me an amazing amount of grief in trying to simply get it painted black… to the point of being comical.

Before I actually started sanding & priming the 2 items above I found about 6 pinholes that had crept back up on the surface of the aft NG30 cover, so I filled those with tiny dabs of Metal Glaze.  I then went on to sand and prime the lid and cover above.

Well, lo and behold there were a few more pinholes that I hadn’t noticed in the shop light, until I took the aft NG30 cover outside. I then whipped up a tiny bit more Metal Glaze and repeated the process (it’s very workable in 20 min, versus the long cure time for epoxy).

Finally, after messing around with the items above for a good bit of time, I was able to do a final EZ sand down of the aft NG30 cover, give it a good bath in Simple Green, and hit it with 3 coats of gloss white paint.

•••

2 May 2017 — Today I lightly sanded the problem child from hell (AKA “the tool box lid”) and hit it with 3 coats of gloss black paint. True to form, it was a slightly breezy day outside and the paint had lots of nice little added surface bits by the time I was done.  I had already decided to actually wet sand these and finish them with clear coat and then buff them out.  That’s the major reason I haven’t riveted the latch on the lower tool box.  I wasn’t really planning on going in that direction, but for some inexplicable reason this particular paint has been such a challenge that I don’t see any other way right now… that is if I want decent looking paint on the tool box. And I do.

•••

7 May 2017 — Today I wet sanded the tool box with 500 grit wet/dry sandpaper, let it dry, then mounted it, and hit it with 2 good coats of clear coat.

While the lower tool box body clear coat was drying, I then wet sanded the tool box lid, which of course proved to be a bit more stubborn than the tool box body in smoothing out the surface imperfections.  I got to a point where I just needed a bit of clean up around the corners when of course –although being VERY careful– I broke through the black paint to the primer below.  This tool box lid truly is proving to be the problem child from hell!  So, I dried it off and hit the corner edges with 2 more coats of black paint.  I’ll let it dry a few days before wet sanding it again and hopefully getting a few good coats of clear on it!

•••

9 May 2017 — Yes, the PROBLEM CHILD FROM HELL is gone!!!  Yeah!

Of course I’m talking about the Tool Box Lid.  Ah, yes, I will regale you with that story in a bit, but first . . .

Today I started by wet sanding the tool box body with 500 grit, then 1000 grit, and finished with 1200 grit.  I could have gone to a higher grit, but I wanted to see if the 1200 wet-sanded surface would buff out nicely.

Well, I have to say I think it did!  Now, I could have used a dual action electric buffer but I really didn’t want to end up cutting through the paint (Rust-Oleum is a bit soft as paints go) so I used the old fashioned elbow grease method on this puppy (or, maybe that’s shoulder grease method because that’s what hurts the most!!)  It took me about an hour total as I worked each section (side, front, corners) with good overlap in-between.  I used a basic wax applicator pad to apply the cutting compound, and a microfiber cloth to remove it.

After I got it all buffed out, I then switched to a new applicator and cloth to finish out the process with a couple of applications of Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish.  I have to say, for what was essentially an experiment this was certainly a success in my book!

Here’s another shot of me doing the ‘ol “can I read the print in the finish?” trick.  Obviously you can, and I am of course very happy with how this buffed out.  I will say that it’s actually difficult in the pics to get the black color to show up.  In person you can really see the black color first, and then the nice shiny reflection in the color.

I then mounted the tool box and grabbed another shot of it, hoping to get more of the black color to show up.  I think it did just a bit more here vs. the pics above.

I then repeated the buffing process for the forward NG30 cover, except since I didn’t clear coat this piece I very lightly wet sanded it with 500 grit before almost immediately jumping to 1000 grit.  I then finished up again with 1200 grit.

Between the white color and this piece not having been clear coated, you can see that the final shine is not nearly as stunning on the forward NG30 cover as it is on the tool box.  No worries at all since this piece still came out very nice, and since it will be down at the bottom of the nose well it really won’t be a centerpiece item or noticed as much.

Also, this finish on the forward NG30 cover does tell me though that I will be wet sanding and clear coating the aft NG30 cover before it gets installed back in place.  Here’s another shot of the forward NG30 cover after I buffed it out.

And one of the forward NG30 cover set in place where it will get installed.

Ok . . . then came the crowning moment of the entire last couple of weeks!!!  I finally was able to get a good wet sanding accomplished on the nose tool box lid!  I then carefully cut and placed the label on the top after measuring it out to ensure it was centered.  I then quickly wiped down the entire lid with some Acetone to ensure I didn’t get a repeat of the mysterious contamination I had last time.

I then grabbed the can of Gloss Clear Coat, shook the living crap out of it, and started with a very light mist coat over the top of the tool box lid to give the clear something to grip to on the slick label surface.  I waited a little over a minute than hit it with just another, very slightly thicker mist coat.  I then waited about 2 minutes before hitting it with its first real coat of clear.  After that, I gave it 3 more good coats for a total of 4 coats of clear, with about 4 minute intervals in between.  Normally I would go with 2 coats of clear, but with the label on top I wanted a little bit higher build for wet-sanding before buffing it out.

I thought I’d leave you with a final before & after shot of the tool box body.   I really am very pleased with how well it turned out.

•••

10 May 2017 — I started off today sanding down the aft NG30 cover with some 220 grit sandpaper (sorry for the blurry pic).  I then needed to add a tiny bit of Metal Glaze to a few spots for some minor blemish cleanup.

As the Metal Glaze was curing I then grabbed the tool box body and redrilled the 2 rivet holes on the front face that will be used to mount the lower latch assembly.

Speaking of which, here is the lower latch assembly right here.  I quickly realized that my rivet hand squeezer didn’t have a deep enough arm to allow me to set these rivets.  Guess I’ll have to track down some RV buddies in my local EAA chapter!

Shortly after setting the lower tool box latch in place, I took the dried GPS antenna cover and the aft NG30 cover outside and hit them with high build primer and 3 final coats of paint, respectively.  On the NG30 cover, I was only retouching the left side and front, so I added 3 more coats of paint since I’ll be giving it a good wet sanding before clear coating it.

Here’s a pic of the aft NG30 cover with it’s 3 latest coats of paint on the left & front sides.  I did manage to get one run in the upper left corner on the side, but it should be no big deal since I’m going to give this a good wet sanding, then 2-3 coats of clear coat.

Here’s the front side of the aft NG30 cover.  Again, I’m going to wet sand the entire thing  before hitting it with clear coat.

•••

11 May 2017 — Today I turned my sights back onto getting some of these painted parts knocked out.  I wet sanded the tool box lid lightly with 500 grit sandpaper, then 1000 grit and finally 1200 grit.

As I buffed out the tool box lid I was also uploading the lengthy video above.  It took a little over an hour total to buff out the tool box lid by hand.

Again, after the Ultimate cutting compound application, I then wrapped up the tool box lid by hitting it with 3 rounds of Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish.

I then set it on top of the tool box body.

•••

14 May 2017 — Tonight, my last official build act for the evening was wet sanding the aft NG30 cover.  I set aside clear coating the NG30 cover until later since there’s a couple of areas on the cover that I want to assess.

•••

17 May 2017 — Today I did in fact get something done… albeit not very well!  I clear coated the aft NG30 cover with 3 coats of clear coat, but apparently there was some contamination on the surface because I had some issues.

As you can see on the front, I had a bit of an adhesion problem.

And, to add insult to injury, a nice run on each side.  Ugh.  So, I’ll try to just wet sand it and see if I can buff it out after I wet sand, or I may have to re-clear it.  More to come on this.

•••

 

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Project Update

Hi Folks,

Well, Rough River 2017 is in the history books.  A great Rough River all the way around!  Marco’s new GRT Mini & GNRS480 avionics install went off without a hitch, providing an awesome proof of concept for my upcoming panel.  In addition, the myriad of builder tips that I got from Buly, Rick Hall, James Redmon, Terry Schubert, Mike Beasley, Bruce Sinclair, Bill James and countless others were gold in the bank for so many upcoming component decisions and configurations I need to make.

As I mentioned before, I’ve had to adjust my schedule a bit over the past 6 weeks, which of course impacts my goals.  Yes, I will continue to fight in my hope that this will be the final push to get the main assembly of the aircraft completed.   I do plan on having the main structure of the aircraft finished by year’s end.  An aggressive timeline to be sure, but I think it’s very doable.

I’m still working out the finer details of making everything fit inside the cockpit.  Since the vast majority of what I’m doing are all mods, these usually require a lot of in-house R&D, and then trial & error when finally at the install phase.  However, the curve is exponential in that as each component is designed and installed, it accelerates the build because besides just being in the “done” column, it is one less thing to design and build.  Moreover, it’s a variable that has been changed into a constant.

All this is just to say that even though things seem to be going slowly, there really is a momentum building for this project.  These pesky mini-tasks burn time, but as they are finished and systems are integrated, then when the final airframe components builds are finished, this plane will seriously be close to being done. Again, these mini-tasks are definitely time-consuming and a lot more slow going then planned.  But finishing them now allows me to work all this stuff while I can stand right next to the fuselage without having to deal with strakes, or nose, being in the way!  

I have to say that it’s much easier and more fun to build the big stuff that makes this project look like a plane, and I often feel my discipline waining to go build something “cool”.  So, although obviously not as sexy as seeing major aircraft components (i.e. nose, strakes, canopy) being completed, these mini-tasks are oh so necessary for quality of flying later on!  Moreover, these immediate tasks, in turn, will allow me to finalize the configuration of the nose components. At which point I will focus on the building the nose and the canopy.  . . while concurrently finalizing the wheel pants install (nope, haven’t forgot about those!).

Cheers!

 

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